Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers in the Chesapeake watershed. Here is a list of species and a description of the lengths to which some of these mothers will go to protect their young — or not. Can you match them up?

American Crow
Big Brown Bat
Brown-headed Cowbird
Dusky Pipefish
Five-Lined Skink
House Sparrow
Painted Turtle
Wolf Spider
Wood Duck

1. This mother does it all. She warms her eggs, cleans them so they aren’t attacked by fungus and defends them from predators. She doesn’t eat a thing during this time except for the eggs that have gone bad. She helps her babies hatch out of their eggs and will protect and feed them for the next few months until they molt. Should she die during this time, mom’s on the menu.

2. When these babies are 1 day old, they jump from their nest to the water or ground below. (Nests are usually built over water to cushion the babies’ landings.) Where is mom during all of this? Egging them on to jump. After this, she leaves them — and they are perfectly able to fend for themselves.

3. Dad’s not the only one who helps this mom raise her brood. Offspring from a previous nesting season will usually remain with the family to assist in rearing new nestlings. Most offspring do not leave the family group to breed for four to five years.

4. This mom determines the sex of her offspring by where she buries her eggs. The warmer the ground, the greater the likelihood that her eggs will turn into females.

5. During mating, this mom inserts her eggs into the father’s brood pouch, where he fertilizes, carries and nourishes the eggs until they hatch about 10 days later. After that, the young are on their own.

6. This mom joins hundreds of other mothers of her species to form maternity colonies.

7. This mom seeks out the nests of all the other females with whom the father of her young has mated so she can kill those nestlings. This means that the father will have more time to help her raise her babies.

8. Once this mom has mated, it is all up to her. She builds the nest, broods her 1–3 eggs, and once they have hatched — feeds her chicks 1–3 times every hour by regurgitation until 18–22 days later, when the young are ready to leave the nest. Then she does it all over again for her second brood of the summer.

9. This mother straps her sac of eggs to her body and carries it with her. Once her offspring have hatched, she will allow them to ride on her back until they are mature enough to strike out on their own.

10. To protect her nest on the ground, this mom will fake an injury to lead would-be predators in another direction, not flying away until they are a safe distance from her eggs or chicks.

11. Unlike many reptile moms, whose parenting is done once their eggs are laid, this mom will stay with her eggs until they hatch — then eat the eggs that don’t hatch.

12. This mom may lay more than 36 eggs each summer in other bird species’ nests. The parents of the nest are tricked into feeding these “foster” chicks, often at the expense of their true children.


1. Earwig
2. Wood Duck
3. American Crow
4. Painted Turtle
5. Dusky Pipefish
6. Big Brown Bat
7. House Sparrow
8. Hummingbird
9. Wolf Spider
10. Killdeer
11. Five-Lined Skink
12. Brown-headed Cowbird