Tuesday, 17 February 2015

B.O.T.D. Killdeer

B.O.T.D. Feb 17, 2015

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

At least two days before killdeer babied peck their way out of their shells that are conversing in peeps and learning to understand the voices of their parents. When at last they kick the shells aside - usually within an hour or so of one another - they are wet and exhausted from the hours long struggle. Their parents brood them to keep them warm and help them to rest. A few hours later their down is dry, their eyes are open, and their are following their parents from the nest, looking like mottled brown puffballs on toothpick stilts.

Soon they begin picking at the earth with their own small bill, finding out for themselves that they can eat the seeds and tiny insects that lie there. But danger is all around. At the slightest sign from their parents they lose their dark eyes and freeze in place, not twitching a muscle, while their parents fly into the faces of cattle ambling toward them or try to lead more determined enemies away be pretending to be crippled. But if the parents signal them to flee, the chicks dash away, sometimes into a stream or pend where they seem away. If the predator is a hawk, they drop beneath the surface and win safely underwater.

Finally, after almost a month of learning about land and water, the youngsters grow flight feathers and join their fellows in flying and screaming happily above the pastures.