Dusk advanced. Yet I still hoped to till our main veggie garden prior to rains predicted to start at midnight and continue for a few days. Lights on, a self-coaching voice prompting me to “stay alert”, “look for big rocks”, I startled and backed off on the throttle. My mind took in a bright white chest barred with two black bands. Next I saw her orange-buff rump, as the adult Killdeer did her broken wing display trying to distract me from her nest of 4 beautiful speckled eggs.
Sandwiched between two ecologist brothers, one an ornithologist, and having done some of my own birding I often can come up with a guess at a bird. But I get insecure, the calls and names blend together. Outside the most common ones, I have to relearn calls each year. This one I knew from youth. I remember learning it from my Dad on evening walks around Mr. Connor’s fields. The name stuck with me where others didn’t. For the last 28 days the frequent “Killdeer” call has linked my past and present.
How fitting it was that today when we discovered 3 tiny replicas of Mama and Papa Kill Deer that my Dad was visiting! I wish we could share photos of their bright white chests with black bands… but these guys are born running. Like chickens, ducks and other precocial birds, they hatch from a larger than average egg eyes wide open, fluffy of feather and ready to run. As we planted successions of bush beans today the 3 little ones scooted around with both parents close at hand, demonstrating their (fake) broken wing whenever we got too close to the day-old birds. One egg remains on the nest which can be found in an island of weeds and cover crops which will be tilled in and planted over as soon as these little guys find their wings. For this precocious species it will only be a few days.