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Foster fathers play an important role raising orphaned birds

Foster parents help raise young birds at the Raptor Education Group
Austin Schindler
WAOW Television
Foster parents help raise young birds at the Raptor Education Group

The Raptor Education Group is highlighting a couple of their birds who are foster dads for all the work they put in to raise their adopted chicks.

"The males have a very full role with raising babies, and they take it very seriously," said Marge Gibson, founder of the Raptor Education Group (REGI).

Just like the rest of us, birds also need a father figure in their life, and REGI has foster birds to take that role for chicks that are brought into the facility parentless or severely injured.

Many would think that they wouldn't like seeing chicks that aren't theirs, but that's not the case.

"They naturally aren't aggressive to babies of their own species or of other species if there's food," said Gibson.

REGI has two foster dads, both over 30 years old, taking care of over 100 baby chicks over the years because they provide something that human care can't, giving those chicks the tools to thrive in the wild once they're released.

"We can't teach them the proper vocalization, the behaviors, and the things that they need to learn to survive and thrive in the wild. So that's all up to the parents," said Gibson.

That also includes learning proper manners.

"We do have the occasional chick that's strong-willed, as every family has," said Gibson. "They have to know everything to survive, and that includes sometimes learning how to be nice."

The foster great-horned owl, named "Pops," has eight kids to take care of this year, but once they are released, he knows he's earned a well-deserved time off.

"I will say that in October, when the babies are getting ready to be released, he's anxious for a vacation," said Gibson.

Once the chicks are well and old enough, they get sent back into the wild. That's why it's important to be raised by these dads with no human contact.

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