Friday, July 12, 2013

Killdeer on Tracks




Killdeer are practiced performers.   They put on an enjoyable show.  Their shows are playing over all of North America now, except Alaska.  It is a combination of air shows and stage performances. Killdeer are the main attractions.


Claiming the Killdeer name comes from its call takes a bit of imagination.  If true, my ear is not tuned well enough to hear ‘killdeer’ in it, so I'm not joining that discussion.  What I do appreciate is the Killdeer’s ability to convince a predator she is injured…stop hunting for my chicks…come and eat me instead.  It’s acting…that’s cunning!



Rising into the air, two of the six Killdeer complained loudly as they circled me. I was in this pair’s territory. They were insistent I leave. 

Killdeer lay their eggs on the ground in a scrape barely resembling a nest.  The vegetation along the railroad tracks was low...prime Killdeer habitat.  I searched for their eggs within the acres of short seedlings, but it was like finding a speckled brown marble in a hayfield. The pair hid their eggs well.   They were careful to keep it a secret, too.  Their whole purpose in circling and calling was to get my attention and draw me away.   


Twisting and contorting herself, she put on a convincing performance of an injured bird in trouble. 

The other Killdeer pairs watched this drama from a hundred feet away, but didn’t have a part.  


She played her part convincingly and acted out her dying scene on several stages. 

I watched from my seat sixty feet away…sort of the 30th row.    





This act worked for her three time.  Each performance took me further and further down the tracks.  She was drawing me away, but I was getting the show for free.

At the end of each performance she would miraculously recover and trot away.  She even took bows…many, actually.  It is in the Killdeer’s nature to comically bob up and down when disturbed. I could interpret this bobbing as laughing at me, but I’d rather think not.  I left satisfied.

I recommend this show…two thumbs up.

Allan