Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nests and eggs

I have been watching the Kildeer in the field near our home since early April. Generally, they have been easy to see, especially before the grasses started growing again. Last week, we were walking on the pathway and this Kildeer came toward us at an usually close distance. As we kept walking , the bird's distress became more evident and I knew we were near the nest. The dog was along, and when I did not see the nest readily, we proceeded on our way home.

The bird did its dramatic broken wing act with lots of noisy overtures and after we were a safe distance away, it returned to the nesting area.

The following day, I went to the field by myself and found the nest easily. Four specked eggs lay in a small depression in the ground. I did not get too close and used the zoom on the camera to take the pictures.

It seemed improbable that these eggs would stay undiscovered until hatching, and that the nestlings could be safe from predators out in an open field. The brave actions of the parent were the main protection for the eggs as the bird offered itself as bait to a predator. I will not let the dog roam free in the area for a while until I am sure the nesting period is over.

On another walk last week, this time near the hospital, my walking partner found this tiny egg on the sidewalk. It was intact, but had a small hole started on the one side. The shell broke easily and this fully formed bird was dead inside. It looked as if it had started to break out of the shell, but had fallen from the nest.

I think this is a Nuthatch according to the size and colour of the egg. Perhaps it had fallen from the nest with the movement that comes with hatching, or with the wind.

It would seem that a nest in a tree would be safer than one on the ground, but either way, there are many risks to overcome before a bird comes to maturity. I wonder what percentage of nest eggs this spring will end up as healthy, adult birds?

The Kildeer's field is to be transformed into two soccer fields and a parking lot in the next year;- another habitat lost because of the biggest predator...man.


  1. That little bird face in the egg leaves me sad but it made me think of a quote I heard- some thing like "Nature is both wondrous and terrible"

  2. What's even the point of putting a parking lot and two soccer fields in that area?! There's already one soccer field close by (in the SAME area even)!!! And there's nothing around that area that requires a parking lot, except for those two unecessary soccer fields!!!

    I'm mad right now. >:(

    Really mad.

  3. It's hard to be a bird.
    The egg may have been picked up by another bird, like a blue jay or grackle (they like eggs for breakfast) and may have been driven away from the nest and dropped it.
    I love the rage from The Becka. Justified.

  4. Kildeer are funny birds and amaze me with their choice of nesting sites. I too often wonder just how many of the eggs laid hatch and how many fledglings live each season. It's all very fragile indeed.

  5. What a shame to see the little bird like that but it is interesting looking to see how it comes out of the egg! The Killdeer nest is wonderful and glad you were able to get it displaying to you! Do you know what they call baby killdeer? Killfawns!! Only kidding but does sound cute!

  6. Precious pictures, Ruth. Maybe only once as a child did I stumble upon a nest.

    Lynne's quote above is very apt. I didn't look closely at the broken egg. I'm turning into such a wuss as I age.

    When the wild unruly places are all tamed and paved - where will we go for joy - for solace?

  7. I like Becka's spunk, too.

    I saw a kildeer doing it's passing out, broken leg act a few weeks ago but I didn't realize the connection or I would have been curious to find the nest. Interesting tactics from a bird-brain.

    I also wonder how many eggs produce a bird that makes it to adulthood.

  8. Anonymous1:54 pm GMT-4

    Mother Nature can be both wondrous and terrible... Hopefully the little birds siblings made it. A couple years ago near Spokane a few kids smashed a nest of swan eggs (I think they killed one of the swans too.) Mankind can be wondrous and terrible to...

    Is any local group working towards preventing the soccer fields and preserving the area?

  9. I am sitting here LOL at Mon@rch's little pun.
    As I read along, I was thinking the saddest thing was the still-born egg--but then I got to the planned soccer fields and habitat destruction. What is wrong with us humans? How can we stop ourselves from this madness?

  10. Lynne- Your quote is so appropriate. Our urban society is so far removed from the realities of nature. I felt badly about the little bird too, and hesitated to show the picture, but felt it was important to think about the harshness of nature, as well as its beauty.

    Becka- I hardly see people using the soccer field across the road!

    Susan- I never thought about nest snatchers. I have really noticed the hardships the birds have endured this spring, from late snow and freezing temperatures, to severe wind and hail storms. And they keep singing!

    Jayne- Kildeer behaviour is certainly unique! It makes them easy to photograph compared to other birds.

    Monarch- I would believe anything you told me about birds, including killfawns! Good joke. I took a number of pictures and measurements of the little bird, kind of like a coroner.

    Cathy- We do need those wild spaces... I used to be more of a wuss about death, but have learned to face it respectfully and talk about it openly with my patients. Many children in this world face odds as difficult as this bird and that is also very sad.

    Mary- I remember your kildeer picture, and you were likely very close to the nest. I walked very carefully, looking before each step. It would be very easy to miss it and walk in the eggs.

    Jaspenelle- People in the neighbourhood think a park is great. Very few of them appreciate the wildlife and wildflowers that grow there. Some consultants were paid to come up with a plan for the land. Plan A, B and C did not include a "leave it alone" approach.

    KGMom- You are smarter than I was to get Tom's joke right away. More people need to read the excellent nature blogs like Tom's and others to appreciate what we are doing to our environment.


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