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On Being A Wild Parent

Rosa Virginia
Mallard ducks are omnivores, live an average life span in the wild of 5-10 years and weigh 2-3 pounds.

While schools are closed, we're creating a series of "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

On this edition of Talk of Iowa wildlife biologist Jim Pease will introduce listeners to how animals handle parenting in the wild. According to Pease, there are a lot of "right" ways to parent, like illustrating behaviors such as feeding, seeking assistance from siblings and allowing offspring the freedom to explore.

There are also many similarities and dissimilarities between human and animal styles of parenting. Pease would like to encourage listening parents to get their kids outside, as this time of year is when many animals have given birth. We'll talk about all kinds of animals including cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, phalaropes, honey bees, mallard ducks, house wrens and many more. 


  • Precocial; (of a young bird or other animal) hatched or born in an advanced state and able to feed itself almost immediately.
  • Altricial; (of a young bird or other animal) hatched or born in an undeveloped state and requiring care and feeding by the parents.
  • Gestation; the process of carrying or being carried in the womb between conception and birth.
  • Parental investment; any parental expenditure that benefits offspring.
  • Brood parasite; organisims that rely on others to raise their young.

Discussion questions & activities:

  • We just celebrated Mother’s Day. Which animal mother do you most admire?
  • Let’s celebrate Father’s Day a little early. Which animal father are you most impressed by?
  • What animal that we learned about today has a parenting style most similar to your parents?
Wildlife DayEnvironment
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa