One of the best things about living on a horse farm is getting to live so close to nature and see it up close and personal. We are very fortunate to live outside city limits with a country feel and yet only a couple minutes from town. It truly is a luxury. This summer, we have had the pleasure of getting to witness a little killdeer family. For those of you who are unfamiliar with killdeer, let me tell you a little about them. They are a medium sized , brown and white bird that has very upright long legs with which they use to scuttle and scurry all over the ground. They fly well, but they prefer to stay close to the ground. They build their nests on the ground as well, usually in small indentations in gravel. A male and a female stick together for the whole season building a nest (which isn’t much), laying the eggs (almost always four), and then sitting on the eggs for a whole month. The male usually takes the night shift, and the female takes the day shift. I think that is so cute! Killdeer are also known for their unique way of keeping predators away from their nests. They flap their wings and make horribly loud noises, appearing as if they are wounded and drawing the predator away from the eggs.
Meet our Mommy Killdeer:
Our little couple made their nest in a horrible spot in the gravel on our driveway to the full board barn. I was really nervous that someone wouldn’t see them and accidentally run over them, so we placed buckets around the nest to create barriers. They laid their eggs around the beginning of June and we waited patiently until the end of June before they hatched. I thought surely they would burn up in the sun, but killdeer moms are pretty ingenious. I noticed one day that the eggs were wet, so I did a little research and found out that killdeer parents fly to a water source, dip their bodies into the water, fly back to their nests really quickly, and use the water to keep the eggs cool.
If you look closely, you can see how her feathers are wet on her belly:
Needless to say, after a month of our Killdeer Mommy squawking at us every time we drove by on the gator we were super excited to see the first egg hatch. Very early in the morning, my mom and I just happened to drive by at the right moment to see a little head poke out of the shell. We were beside ourselves! You don’t get to see that every day! After feeding, I took Brad and Gracie to see the baby and we snapped some newborn photos. Mommy Killdeer wasn’t too happy about our trespassing during such a special moment.
Killdeer babies are able to get up and walk around only an hour after they’re born, so it we didn’t get a glimpse of the other babies hatching. As soon as they hatched I believe Daddy Killdeer took them away in the grass for shelter. Talk about team work! I can’t wait to see more of this little family this summer!