Monday, July 11, 2011

The Perils of Nesting Killdeer: Raising Young in a Parking Lot

It was the holiday weekend. Despite the distraction of three days of beautiful weather and the start of the 2011 Tour de France, I still managed to find time to inspect the nesting Killdeer on the property of my employer.

On Canada Day, Jean and I checked on the progress of the two clutches after completing our third and final survey for the Marsh Monitoring Program. The adult was still incubating the eggs.

Over on the other side of the building, the second breeding pair had momentarily left their eggs unattended.

No emergence on Saturday either but on Sunday afternoon Jean and I made a quick inspection on the way home after visiting friends. As we watched the adult rise from the spot it has tended the last few weeks, two chicks popped out and ran a short distance. Finally! After an incubation of approximately 27 days, two of the eggs had hatched. The other half of the clutch still sat in the gravel. Since they were not laid until two days after the first two, it appeared there was still some incubation time required.

Walking into work Monday morning I noticed the gravel area was empty and there was hardly any evidence that Killdeer had nested near the entrance to the building. All that was left was a shallow depression created by the shorebird. Jean and I returned Monday evening with our scope to capture some digiscoped images. We found both adults but only two young. It's possible the other two eggs were preyed upon.

We kept a safe distance from the family and though it was not easy, Jean snapped a few pictures. The young are quite small and the camera preferred to focus on the nearby rocks and clumps of grass.

The second pair still had some incubating to do.

I'll continue to monitor the development of the young and will look forward to the day they can finally fly. Until then, it's best they stay as close as possible to their mum.


  1. Thanks for continuing to post details of this nesting activity-- glad to read of the hatching success so far.

  2. Thanks for your comments Stuart. Hopefully I'll be around for the next hatching. As of today, they are still eggs.