Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Circle of Life

When we arrived at our new home just over three weeks ago, we had an unanticipated neighbor. A Killdeer couple had also found the location to be prime and started a nest with four eggs. The nest was nothing more than a slight depression in the ground, filled with a few twig pieces and right in the middle of the backyard. To be honest, it wasn't really a backyard when they moved in, more of a field with a lot of dirt, rocks and weeds.

We left them alone and carefully worked around the birds and nest. I did Internet research and determined the eggs had three weeks to hatch from the day we moved in. I really enjoyed watching the birds and checking the nest daily. I did more research and found out interesting facts about our neighbors. Killdeer are actually shorebirds, although we don't have any shores nearby. They also very commonly build nests near humans.

The part I found most interesting was how the birds would defend their nest. First, the bird on the nest would let out a shriek to let the mate know a "predator" was near. Then the nesting bird would run off the nest and fake a broken wing, trying to lure me away from the nest. The final tactic would be to brood over a fake nest.

Finally, last Saturday morning, a check on the nest revealed two baby birds. The babies were just as fascinating as the parents. They hatch ready to go and can be up and running in a matter of hours. A third bird had hatched by Saturday night and we had observed the babies trying out their legs. It was an exciting time and I was looking forward to watching the birds grow.

Just after midnight Sunday morning, I was awoken by a thunderstorm and the Killdeer parents shrieking. I tried to see what was going on, but it was dark and rainy. I assumed the birds were upset by the storm. Unfortunately, Sunday morning revealed the parents noise had been caused by an intruder. A small animal (we assume a cat) had discovered the nest and gotten to the defenseless babies. The only sign of the birds was the fourth egg, unbroken.

I was saddened and disappointed by the devastation of the nest. One of the parents came back to check the egg, but deemed it unviable and abandoned our yard. I hope we might be lucky enough to observe nature in this way, but next time with a better outcome.

1 comment:

Leisy Family said...

First off only you would have a video of some bird running around :) Second that is the saddest story ever. I was all happy about the baby birds and then you tell me they were ate by a cat!! Guess it is the circle of life :)