PROJECT KILLDEER

The discovery on June 17th, 2018

I was in search of something to photograph on this day and went to the usual lake shores, parks and marshes to see if I could catch a glimpse of the mergansers, mallards or any other shore birds that might be hanging around.  No luck!  I then decided to head toward the Military Establishment at the Red Dock in Penetanguishene to see what I might find there but something caught my eye and I instead decided to turn into the south end entrance to the Bay Moorings Marine entrance (this location is now vacant) to check out a possible beaver dam that I suspected I would find there.  There was indeed a beaver dam in a well hidden marsh just behind someone’s home.

There were no beavers to be seen either but as I was backing out of the parking lot I saw a bird in flight in the corner of my eye.  I stepped on the brake and saw a killdeer flying fairly low to the ground.  I got out and took a photo and then got back in the car.  As continued to back up but once again I spotted something just to my left but this time – it was on the ground.  Another killdeer was laying on a mound of rocks and again I decided to photograph her.  To my surprise momma killdeer was sitting on four eggs and this of course thrilled me.  I decided to give her some privacy and respectfully backed myself up, set my folding seat up near the car, mounted my camera on the tripod and took a few pictures of her going about taking care of her charge.

I didn’t stay long and then went home to research what I could about the killdeer, their habitat and their incubation period.  I decided there and then that I would study this beautiful little bird and photograph and record her time setting her eggs.  It was June 4th – the killdeer incubation period is 22-28 days.  The clutch size is usually 4 to 6 eggs with the eggs measuring about 3 to 3 1/2″ in size.

The chicks were born on May 21st so I estimate momma killdeer had laid her eggs on or about May 1st.

From everything I had read the chicks would be born self-sufficient and able to run along as soon as they are hatched and this proved to be true in my case.

Unlike their female killdeer who sat so quietly and stately on her next the chick were incredibly nimble and quick on their feet – scattering in all direction as fast as they could.  It was impossible to get a “family picture” of mom and her babies as I thought I might do.  Instead I was lucky enough to get a couple of individual pictures of them as they ran around exercising their little legs and hiding behind the blades of grass around them.

The pictures below are of momma killdeer, momma killdeer setting her eggs, and two of the chicks running about.  All are way too cute.

KILLDEER-(31)

KILLDEER-(42)

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/lifehistory

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/lifehistory

I truly enjoyed haven been given the opportunity to follow, study and photograph this little family.  I learned the importance of respecting not only the killdeer but all the birds in their natural habitats.  To ensure that these species thrive we must always give them all the respect they need.  They are timid and shy creature and even if the appear to welcome your presence it is our responsibility to allow them all the privacy during this special time.

I said my goodbyes the day the chicks were born feeling blessed to have had this chance to acquaint myself with them during this time.

Bye for now!