The Travels of Tug 44

Broken Wing Display, Nest & Eggs

Near the end of May 2019, I was photographing this cute little Killdeer in a cow pasture on a dirt road. She was hunting bugs in some rain puddles.   high-res

The Killdeer moved around quite a bit, going from puddle to puddle and hunting bugs.   high-res

We had walked up the road some distance following her when suddenly she started displaying by spreading her tail and dragging one of her wings, and peeping loudly. She was suddenly becoming very noticeable!   high-res

Mrs. Killdeer continued her display and frequently looked to make sure we were following her.   high-res

Whenever we didn't follow her, Mrs. Killdeer flew closer to us and made sure we noticed her.   high-res

The Killdeer would drag her wing, whichever one was closest to us. She was trying to appear like she had a broken wing, and that would have certainly attracted a predator to follow her.   high-res

Now the Killdeer has a "broken" left wing dragging on the ground. A few minutes ago it was the other wing supposedly broken, that's how we knew she was fine and what she was doing.   high-res

She was becoming more and more noticeable and loudly peeping. We started looking for the nest, but didn't see it.   high-res

Here, Mrs. Killdeer has turned in the other direction and now it's the right wing supposedly broken. She was desperate to get us to follow her ... away from the nest.   high-res

We backed off some distance and after awhile, she went and sat on her nest. And there it was, right on the edge of the road, in danger of being run over. She likes nesting in the middle of rocks. The rocks hold in the heat from the sun, keeping the eggs warm ... thereby enabling her to leave the nest for a time while she forages.   high-res

I pushed a big rock near her nest, in the hope it would prevent it from bing run over.   high-res

And this is the Killdeer nest with 4 eggs. The nest is just a scrape in the dirt in among the rocks. The eggs were relatively huge compared to the size of a Killdeer body. Dunno how she did it, but there you see it. We visited the nest daily in hope to see chicks hatch, but a few days later the nest was empty and the eggs gone. There are a number of different predators that could have taken them.   high-res

The Killdeer and her unusual method of nest protection.

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