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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Camo Killdeer

While we were at Crane Creek recently, there were so many other birds we saw besides the warblers. This Killdeer, go figure, choose to nest right next to the main path to the visitor's center.
Killdeer love to nest where there are rocks and pebbles that will camouflage their eggs, and the round rock edge next to the path must have been too irresistible, for she choose there for the nest. You can see the round stones are just about the size of the eggs, which blend in.

Trouble is, lots of people walk by there and Mrs. Killdeer would often go into her side-tilt distraction display where she would run a short distance, tilt to one side, drop her wing on that side, and spread her tail. In a more intense version, she would flutter and droop one wing, making it look like she had a broken wing. The function of this display is to lead potential predators away from the nest.

The personnel at the center finally put some trash bins alonside the nest to hide and protect it from the path and passersby and Mrs. Killdeer settled happily on her eggs.

Photos @ Lillian Stokes, 2007


Mary C said...

Hi - I just recently experienced a similar situation with some killdeer, except it's a "city" experience. I posted it on my blog May 29th - I love these birds, but they are so strange/different from most other birds. I always feel that they nest in such vulnerable places; how do they survive, especially in a city? Then again, in rural areas a killdeer needs to deal with "different" predators such as coyotes or foxes, don't they?

Lillian Stokes said...

Killdeer nest in all kinds of unlikely places, such as athletic fields, gravel rooftops of buildings, gravel roads. We once saw one nest in the middle of a busy gravel road in MN where trucks went by, and we were told they successfully hatched the eggs and led the young to safety. The good news for them is that they have lots of potential habitat available across the country, unlike some of the other plovers who only nest on beaches and must compete with beachgoers. The bad news is that they are vulnerable in some of their choices, but, then again, the broken wing display is a good defense and they are often successful in their nesting.

RuthieJ said...

I'm glad the nature center staff put out something to shield Mrs. Killdeer on her nest....the poor thing must have been exhausted from trying to keep people away from her nest all day.

Becky Ringgold said...

Becky Wilson said...
Overnight our Killdeer birds and eggs disappeared after many weeks of incubating. Our concern is that there is no sign of egg shells from hatched birds. Please tell us that this is common. We have secured their spot, parked cars in far away places, leashed our dog--all to protect our second nesting of killdeers.

dguzman said...

I see a large number of killdeer flying over the marsh behind our house, but I often wonder where they nest--not a lot of rocky areas on the marsh. Do they ever nest in non-rocky areas like tall marsh grasses or anything?

Lillian Stokes said...

When baby Killdeer hatch they are fully feathered and can feed themselves. The adults lead them immediately to safer areas where they watch over them until they can fly.

Becky, you may not find any eggshells, as the adults, or something else can remove them or carry them off. So your Killdeer nest may have successfully hatched and the babies led to safety.

dguzman, you may see Killdeer flying over marshes or feeding there, which they often do. That does not mean they are nesting there. They can nest near a marsh on any bare, pebbly ground, or any other areas such as playing fields, gravel parking lots etc. When their babies cah fly, they will take them to favorable feeding areas and this can include the marshes.