Every Spring the Killdeer return to our farm. Nervous little birds on long skinny legs; the kind of bird you would expect to see at the seashore, but we’re not. We usually don’t pay a lot of attention to them; except for the annoying loud noises they can make at all hours of the night!
Killdeer are famous for making their nest on the ground in a very un bird -like manner. Maybe they are where the phrase bird brain came from, I’m not sure. But their eggs are amazingly camouflaged to look like pebbles.
This year they made their nest in the stones next to my garden. Although nest is a bit of an overstatement, four eggs in a slight depression in the stones. So this will provide 3 to 4 weeks of avian entertainment. The way they protect their eggs and young is the entertaining part. They will try to lure you away from their nest by faking an injured wing and leading you away from their nest making all kinds of racket.
Unless of course you are a goat or a horse, then they puff themselves up as big as they can, wings spread and charging you and screaming all the way. Interesting as it is to observe their antics; we try not to disturb them too much. They take turns sitting on their nest and spend the rest of their day eating lots of harmful bugs; including beetles, mosquitos and ticks so they are good for the garden and the animals. But every time Dean or I go to the garden, it creates quite a raucous display.
We get lots of Killdeer here. I think because we have so much open space and beyond that there is lots of wetlands. But it wasn’t always that way. In the 1800’s they were hunted almost to the point of extinction. I have heard they aren’t much to eat so maybe it was their loud calls that got them into trouble. Finally a law was passed in 1917 to protect Killdeer and their eggs, because they are so valuable to farmers eating pests that eat crops.
I am honored that the Killdeer feel happy here to make their homes here in our garden. I think is says so much about how we feel about a happy, natural way of life!