Jackie Purcell, Josh’s mother, was visiting The Beekman this weekend, and spotted a nest of a Killdeer. (Charadrius Vociferus). Killdeer are part of the plover family of birds – most of which are shorebirds which make their nests among reeds and sand dunes.
The Killdeer, however, is a type of plover frequently found around farms rather than bodies of water.
With all the hazards of a farmyard, it’s amazing to think that the Killdeer, like all plovers, lay their eggs on the ground – in this case in the gravel driveway of The Beekman:
Of course the larger rocks you see around the nest were placed there by us, to protect the nest from lawnmowers, weed whackers, and the Fed Ex truck. Squint and you can see the speckled eggs, perfectly camouflaged among the gravel.
So how does the Killdeer protect its vulnerable ground nest? …With some very clever acting skills.
When Killdeer see a predator approaching their nest, they hop off the nest and feign a broken wing, trying to convince the predator to attack them – an apparently easy target – rather than the eggs or chicks. As it flutters around in the grass, it hops and flies away from the nest, luring the predator farther and farther away.
Our Killdeer actually tries the old broken wing act on our pickup truck every time we turn in the drive.
Below is a short video we took of our mother Killdeer trying to distract us with her “broken” wing. Notice how as she moves further away, she’ll stop, flop on the ground, and spread her feathers awkwardly as if they were damaged. You can also hear her distress call. (Don’t worry, we didn’t bother her for long.)
It’s working for her. Her eggs are still safe. We’ll update with photos once the eggs (hopefully!) hatch.
As of 6/29, the eggs have still not hatched.
7/4 We returned to the Beekman to find the mother and all the eggs gone. Not even a bit of shell left. Spelled out in the gravel was a single word: “croatoan”. Hmm