Friday, July 20, 2007

On the Road in Texas - Killdeer Chicks

These are the little ones that the two killdeer parents were working so hard to hide from me. Actually, there were four of them. The two pictured here were clearly the last two to hatch, as they are the least developed (the more developed two will be presented in the next posting).
When I first spotted these chicks, I thought that they might be mockingbird young, as there were mockingbirds in the area and what appeared to be mockingbird nests in several of the adjacent trees. However, given the amount of attention I was getting from the killdeer parents, I figured these young must be killdeers. I later went to this site with photos of killdeer chicks; there is a close enough resemblance for me to believe that these are killdeers.
Killdeer nest on the ground; the nest is little more than a scratched depression, sometimes with a bit of lining, often white objects. The killdeer young are active as soon as they dry out after hatching - in stark contrast to many other chicks that can barely hold their heads up when they hatch. As soon as the killdeer young are dry, they are moving (hopping) to protect themselves from predators. The parents, of course, keep a close eye out, distracting would be predators from the still developing young by way of making noise, feinting injury, and flopping on the ground. These two young stayed in the shade and cover of a singular tree.
In the next posting, we'll meet their siblings who clearly interested in flying.

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