This week there will be no flower pictures due to the fact we're so dry the flowers are looking pathetic. So, I'm posting pictures of a little surprise in the road to the chicken houses.
Are you familiar with a bird called the Killdeer? We usually see them near the stock pond but when it comes time to raise young they seek out places with low vegetation or no vegetation at all. They spend their time walking along, then running ahead a few steps, stop to look around, then run again, and when disturbed they will circle overhead, calling repeatedly, "kill-deer, kill-deer". Besides their cry, their coloring also helps to identify them: brownish tan on top, the white chest has two black marks and the face has black and white patches. They frequently make their nests in gravel, with no lining, and the eggs look like stones. If the birds feel something is too close to the nest, they go into a broken-wing display, acting as though they can barely walk, and when they feel the eggs, or young, are safe, they fly away.
Killdeer babies are precocial, meaning they are born able to run. Precocial birds stay in the egg twice as long so it has time to develop, 24 to 28 days.
After hearing and seeing a killdeer a few days ago, on the road to the chicken houses, we began looking for her nest and this is what I found:
Do you see the three eggs? They are almost in the center of the picture,just to the right of the shade of the bucket. Even though I know where to look for them, it's difficult for me to find them immediately. The mother bird is very tolerant of us; she runs off just a little distance when we pass, but comes right back.
Another view of the nest. The bucket is there for a reason: when trucks come in with loads of feed, they have to drive around it, and that keeps the eggs safe -- for now. The chickens will be going out in a little less than three weeks and that won't give the birds time to hatch. Since there can be as many as five or six big trucks here at a time, I hope they can manage to miss the bucket; I'll leave it there and hope for the best.
Last summer she made a nest in almost the same spot. The days were dreadfully hot and she sat there in the burning heat, day after day. In the hottest part of the day, she would stand over the eggs, shading them, instead of sitting on them. That was real motherly love!