Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Protective Parent

The killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), a member of the plover family, is widely distributed and is the only shorebird that has two chest bands.The nest of the killdeer is nothing more than a scrape on the ground. Spots on the eggs form a cryptic pattern that allows them to blend in among the rocks and gravel that they are laid upon. They take approximately 24 days to hatch and both parents incubate the eggs and take care of the young.

I was fortunate enough to spot an adult alongside Hwy 87 resting upon 4 eggs. It's amazing that this bird had laid its clutch along the shoulder of a busy highway. Cars were blasting past as it sat on the eggs undisturbed in the least.

As I approached the adult it immediatley began to react exactly as I expected.
It feigned injury by screeching and dragging itself on the ground with a wing extended as if it were wounded. Adults perform this feigning ritual whenever its eggs or young are threatened by a predator in order to distract it and lead it away from the nest.

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