Thursday, May 19, 2016

I'm not Walking on Eggshells

Last Sunday, on the job, I got 'killdeered'... while walking through a field, I was confronted by a small, noisy plover (Charadrius vociferus) that was doing its best impression of an injured bird. It's a sham performance, an ostentatious play-acting of physical distress inspired by evolutionary distress, the fear that a predator would find the bird's precious eggs. The display looked a lot like this:

Last night, while walking through the same field, I encountered the same bird, which started the same display. Being fond of these noisy, comical birds, which look like slightly malfunctioning windup toys, with their ultrafast gait and sudden stops, I immediately shifted into investigative mode. I proceeded through the field at an excruciatingly slow pace... it was like an inversion of navigating a minefield- a methodical creep while scanning for the slightest hint of anything out of the ordinary, not because of a fear of one's own destruction, but for a concern to avoid the destruction of an innocent family of charming neighbors. I was cast in the role of an unwilling Godzilla, liable to stomp on a happy home. My patience paid off, I was able to discover the minimalist excuse of a nest, scratched into a bare spot of ground:

I marked the vicinity of the spot by jamming a stick into the ground vertically, then placing two sticks parallel on the ground, flanking the nest. I left a note for one of the daytime managers, who has a soft spot in his heart for animals, so he could let everybody on the day shift know to give this particular spot a wide birth so as not to trample on these precious treasures, hidden so well in plain sight.


OBS said...

We used to get killdeer nesting in the center strip of our gravel driveway every year (and man do their eggs blend in well with a crushed gravel driveway). The freshly-hatched chicks are perhaps the cutest little things you'll ever see:

Example. (not my photo)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

That's an awesome picture. Those gangly legs really are something.

I love my co-workers- when I arrived at work last night, I noticed that they had cordoned the area off in a more thorough fashion. We all have a realization that our workplace is someplace special, so we go out of our way to keep it that way.

Chickpea said...

I never cease to be amazed by nature, what a clever little actor.

Smut Clyde said...

We get Californian quail in the Zealandia Wildlife sanctuary. Obviously they are not an indigenous NZ species so managing the population is not a high priority for Zealandia's management -- though they provide a food source for the local population of NZ falcon, and are therefore a positive contribution to the broad scheme of things -- but the chicks are as cute as cuteness incarnate. They are camouflaged with edge-disrupting stripes and blotches, so you do not actually see them scuttling after their parents, just a general sense of movement like leaves blowing in the wind, until you remember that there is no wind blowing.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Cool shot...YOU MONSTER!!!