The Killdeer

A killdeer pretending to be hurt, to lure predators away from the nest.

A killdeer pretending to be hurt, to lure predators away from the nest.

I only wanted to spray the spring weeds with Round-up before they took over our yet-to-be-tilled-and-planted garden.

But my presence terrified two killdeer. The pair stayed close by and kept chirping a frantic chattering. Then one of the birds landed and spread out a wing, hobbling like it was hurt.

A killdeer nest between last year's cor stalks.

A killdeer nest between last year’s corn stalks.

Ah-hah! They have a nest nearby. I didn’t move and looked around. Finally I spotted the nest in one end of the garden – an impression in the ground, lined with tiny pebbles, and containing four eggs. It blended in so well, that had the birds not gone ballistic, I’d never have seen their nest and may have stepped on it.

Two newly hatched chicks, two eggs still to hatch.

Two newly hatched chicks, two eggs still to hatch.

I knew that once killdeer hatch, they  walk as soon as their fuzzy feathers dry. Although the young chicks cannot fly, very soon after hatching, the parents walk them to a feeding ground where they stay until able to fly.

Maybe, just maybe I could get a glimpse of the chicks before they left the nest– a very small window of time.

Killdeer chicks lay on the ground perfectly still when a predator is near

Killdeer chicks lay on the ground perfectly still when a predator is near

About two weeks later, I noticed that two of the eggs had hatched. One chick walked around, looking like a fuzz ball with legs. But as soon as the little chick saw me, it lay flat on the ground and didn’t move.

At least this presented an opportunity to take a few pictures. Later that afternoon, the third chick hatched. I never saw the fourth, but the next day their egg-less nest was abandoned.

Parents and chicks abandon the nest soon after last egg hatches.

Parents and chicks abandon the nest soon after last egg hatches.

Now, whenever I hear a killdeer, I wonder if it’s one of “our” birds.

And maybe, just maybe they will come back next year and again hatch their brood in our garden.

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About Kathie Mitchell

Kathie enjoys country living, time with family, playing cornet in community bands, crafts, gardening, and writing.
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