Saturday, June 18, 2011

Killdeer - Eggs

This post may be a little controversial. One of the bird ethics guidelines is to not disturb a bird's nest. I violated that guideline to get these pictures. I was very still and calm as I took the pictures and I wasn't as close as the pictures look as I was using a powerful telephoto lens, but none-the-less, the parents were obviously stressed.
I justified it, in this case, because they are Killdeers. Killdeers build their nest on the ground, in the open, with no protection other than great camouflage and an interesting behavior in which they fake being injured to draw potential predators away. So in a way, they are used to this.I first noticed a Killdeer near the service road as I walked at Fernhill Wetlands Sunday morning. It called out its familiar cry it uses when it is on alert. Then I noticed another Killdeer raise up off the ground a walk off. This tipped me off that I stumbled upon a breeding pair and their nest. I knew where the nest was only because I saw one of the pair raise from it, so it didn't take long to locate the eggs even though they are well camouflaged.It seemed that it was only one of the parents that stuck close by the nest using its broken wing technique in an attempt to draw me off. Then, it changed its strategy and began charging me, still on the ground. I assume it was exhibiting the behavior described on Cornell's All About Birds site, "The Killdeer’s broken-wing act leads predators away from a nest, but doesn’t keep cows or horses from stepping on eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path."That behavior was what made me decide it was time to leave. As I walked off, the two parents flew out ahead of me, alternating flying and crying out, leading me away from their nest.
I hope no one is offended.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, I guess you were the "beast" in this scenario! Great photos, not offended.