What’s so amazing about the Mallee Fowl?

5 Aug

Mallee Fowl live in the Mallee forests of Australia.  While most birds settle for sitting on their eggs to incubate them—the Mallee has a very complicated incubation method.

What do they do?  Each fall they dig a 3 foot deep hole, heap it full of vegetation, let it get rained on, then cover it over with sand and wait for it to decay—up to four months of waiting.

Why wait? 

As it decays it heats up—to just the right temperature to incubate their eggs.  This is no small mound but may end up to be about 6 feet from top to bottom and perhaps 40 feet across. The Mallee may move three tons of materials while tending the mound. That is a lot of scraping of vegetation and sand for those two little feet.

Oh, did I mention this bird is called a Megapod—which means big feet.

How can the Mallee tell the temperature? 

God gave him that amazing ability.  As a matter of fact, he not only can take the temperature, he can do whatever it takes to keep the temperature right at 91 to 92 degrees.  As soon as the temperature is stable, the females starts laying the eggs.

How many eggs are laid? 

If the conditions are right in the mound she will lay up to 30 eggs—each up to a week apart.  If conditions aren’t so good she may only lay about 6 eggs.  And if it is a year without rain, they take a vacation from mound building and egg laying that year.  Amazing how smart these fowl are!

What size are the eggs?

The eggs are nearly as big as an ostrich egg—weighing a half pound each.  The egg is 1/10th of the weight of the female.  That is like a woman having a 15 pound baby.

What about hatching? 

It takes about 9 weeks for each egg to hatch so if they are laid over a period of several weeks, Mr. Mallee is tending that mound for a good long time.  Then, once hatched, the chicks must DIG themselves out of the mound—taking 3-15 hours.

Once out, they are completely on their own.  The parents pay absolutely no attention to them.  At two years old they build their own nest, never having been taught how to build a mound or take the temperature.

Explain the process of evolution in relation to this fowl?  Unless the temperature is just right the hen won’t lay and the eggs won’t incubate.  Too marvelous for explanation!

 Psalm 145:10,11

“Creation and creatures applaud you, God; your holy people bless you.  They talk about the glories of your rule, they exclaim over your splendor. . . . .”

HOW CAN THIS BE?

Baby chicks of the Australian Mallee Fowl hatch only because their parents know how to take the temperature.  If the chick’s parents couldn’t tell when the temperature in their egg chamber was exactly 91-92 degrees, they would never hatch out of the eggs.  This would mean no more Mallee Fowl.  In fact, if the parents were wrong more than one degree either way, it’s bye-bye birdie. 

To take the temperature the male probes the mound with his bill, and when both parents are satisfied the temperature in the mound is “hatching heat” the hen lays a single egg.  The male carefully moves the egg into the right position, then prepares the mound for the next egg.

In a dazzling display of temperature sensing, the Mallee constantly alters the structure of the mound to maintain the exact temperature.  If the heat in the mound increases because of rapidly decaying plant material, he uncovers the eggs to let air circulate around them.  When the hot summer sun beats down, he adds sand or soil to the mound.  This acts as a shield to protect the eggs.

The more we know about the Mallee the more unanswered questions we have.

How do the male and female know what duties are theirs?

How do the chicks know they must tunnel out of the mound in order to survive?

How do the Mallee know what temperature the mound must maintain to sustain the eggs?

No way could this intricate design evolve.  Such marvelous design demands a designer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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