Sunday, March 25, 2012

Charadrius vociferus...and a tribute.

The "lanky, slender wing[ed], [with] a very long tail; orange rump[ed] and doubles breast band[ed] (Sibley's Guide to Birds 2000)" Killdeer, is one of my favorite birds. Seeing this bird reminds me of when I was very young. My family owned a home in Guilderland, NY. The house itself didn't have much accompanying land, but my parents were good friends with the dairy farmers who owned all the adjacent land. I can remember heading out into the pasture with my dad in the afternoons after he got out of work, and just walking. We often stumbled upon the Killdeer fleeing from it's nearby nest. And because we were always curious to find it, we carefully wandered looking for it. The Killdeer has an interesting adaption to protecting it's nest. Instead of offensive protection, it opts for a passive-aggressive manner. The female (I assume, it often seems to be the female) sits on the nest, and when someone comes by that makes her feel unsafe, she flees and does this "broken wing" act. Acting as though she is hurt, and making a lot of noise to catch the intruders attention. She then slowly leads them away, while leaving her brilliantly camouflaged eggs to hang out til she comes back. I should mention, their "nest" is really just a divot in the ground. There's rarely, if ever, anything brought in to amend the nest.

Today, while picking up my Grandmother from the complex she lives in, I spooked a pair of Killdeer on the side of the driveway. They both immediately started the broken wing act and went in opposite directions. So, delaying picking up my Grandma, I got out of the car and walked towards where I spooked them. Both were trying to show me how wounded and delicious they looked, so I knew I must have almost been literally standing on the nest. I looked around, but those eggs are so hard to spot. Instead broke out my camera, which lately doesn't leave my side, and got some beautiful shots...if I do say so myself.

The one I'm dubbing "The Male". This one was not near where I thought the nest was at first.

This one is "The Female" who was nestled down on the ground when I first pulled up.

The Female

The Male

Through my reading, I was unable to find plumage differences between males and females, so I'll just stick with my "gut". I did find, at this website: Killdeer, that both sexes aid in monitoring the nest and raising at least that part of the story is consistent with what's been observed before.


Lastly, unrelated to the Killdeer, I wanted to post a bit of a tribute to one of my inspirations for blogging, learning more about black bears, and to just a wholly wonderful person. KB- you are in my thoughts, as well as your K and silly R. Myself and Ziggy are thinking of you on the East Coast!

The amazing 2-legged, no-eared Black Lab...Ziggy Stardust!

On the left, my 8 year old self with my childhood dog, Zeke.
On the right, my 25 year old self with my "brother-dog", Ziggy!

1 comment:

  1. I am catching up with your posts, and I just ran across your tribute. Thanks so much. Love the photos of you and Zeke and of you and Ziggy!

    I've read about Killdeer but haven't seen them. I believe that I read that their nesting success rate is rather low due to the vulnerability of their eggs to predators... but I'm not certain if I'm remembering correctly.

    I'm enjoying your posts immensely.


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