Monday, May 27, 2013

Killdeer: Smart or Stupid?

Killdeer   (Wikimedia Commons)
A sure sign of spring here in NW Ohio is the sound of the killdeer as we work outside in the garden.  They returned many weeks ago and while their song might be annoying to some, it's one I enjoy hearing.

Yesterday, Romie and I took a walk down to Poohsticks Bridge on an absolutely perfect spring day. Just before we got to the bridge, we walked over to see what the county had dumped in their recent attempt to build up an area notorious for flooding. You never know what you'll see there; mostly it's fill dirt, but there are also bricks, intact pieces of drainage tile, and large rocks.

Yesterday we found something we've never seen before and certainly didn't expect to see.

Do you see it?

There, right out in the open, on the stones, was a single killdeer egg.  Though it's easily detected in the above photo, standing there looking at the stone pile, it was not.  It was pretty well camouflaged and I'm not sure why I noticed it.

Egg size is approximately 1.5 inches in length

Killdeer commonly lay their eggs in open nests such as this and when a predator comes near, they begin acting as though they're injured so as to be a distraction.

As we stood there, looking at the egg, mama wasn't around.  With there only being one egg instead of the usual four to six, we wondered if she hadn't abandoned it.  We'll keep checking it in the coming days to see.

Killdeer Facts(from Cornell University)

  • Latin name:  Charadrius vociferus
  • Size:  8-11 inches in length, similar to the American Robin
  • The killdeer is an excellent swimmer.
  • They scrape an area, lay their eggs, and then build the nest.
  • The oldest known killdeer was 10 years 11 months old.
  • Killdeer are ground foragers with a diet of insects.
  • Northern killdeer spend winters in Mexico, while southern killdeer are year-round residents.


Unknown said...

I grewvup with killdeers around. Love them. Last May when I went to Idaho we had a nest right next to the garage in the rock border. I loved watching them doing their dance to protect the nest. We found another one in the gravel driveway to the pasture. So cool!

Christys Cottage Wildlife Garden said...

I look forward to hearing about the egg. I hope mama didn't abandon it. For some reason there are Killdeers living in the yard of the house across the street. Their front yard is several acres and I see the Killdeers over there all the time. My neighbor said she's seen eggs in the grass.

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