Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Killdeer Family

I've gained a new companion as I work in the yard, a killdeer. If you aren't a bird lover, a killdeer is a smallish brown and white bird with distinct brown bands around its head and neck. I'm not really sure why they haven't become extinct since they nest in a shallow depression on the ground in fields and rural yards.

We have a pair here every year so as soon as I see one in the spring I know to start watching very carefully when I mow. Thankfully the young ones are usually out of the nest and able to fend for themselves before my husband takes the tractor out to cut hay.

This year there were initially four chicks, tiny replicas of their parents and unbearably cute. Soon there were only three; no wonder since they are such easy prey. The three chicks thrived and grew for a couple weeks, but then they discovered grass across the road and, since they prefer to run rather than fly, one was hit and crushed almost beyond recognition by a vehicle. The father bird has long since left, but the mother bird stood vigil on the roadside calling to her dead baby all day long. I felt so sad for her.

I've always talked to her (I know it's nutty) as she feigned a broken wing to lure me away from the nest, and later as she tried in vain to keep up with her chicks. Now that she doesn't have to be with them all the time, she has apparently decided it's more fun to hang out with me than with those darned kids who drive her nuts. Every time I go outside she comes running and stays with me until I go back in the house. I still talk to her and she seems content just to be near me. It's probaby a coincidence (she has to be someplace after all) but I feel like she's doing this purposefully.

And I thought it would be lonely and boring living in the country! I can hear her calling loudly right now; probably wondering why I'm indoors on such a nice day.

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