The mallee bird lives in the Australian desert. In May or June,l with his claws, the male makes a pit in the sand that is just the right size: about 3 feet [9 dm] deep and 6 feet [18 dm] long. Then he fills it with vegetation. As it rots, it heats up. The bird waits patiently until the rains, which increase the heat to over 100º F [38º C] at the bottom of the pile. The bird waits until it is down to 92º F [33º C].
When the right temperature is reached, he calls for his wife; they mate; she lays one egg a day for 30 days and then leaves.
The male then covers the eggs with sand and continually checks the temperature with his amazing thermometer bill for 7 weeks. He cannot let the temperature go up or down even one degree. If it cools at night, he piles on more sand. If it overheats in the day, he pulls off sand.
At hatching time the chicks break their shells – and crawl up through as much as 2 feet of sand! Arriving at the top, each one is fully able to fly and is on its own. Neither father or mother mallee bird gives it any further attention or training. When it grows up, it does just as its parents did.
[used by permission from the Evolution Handbook – pg 66]
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