St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Killdeer and agate hunting on the back 40

A Lake Superior agate found while stalking the wild killdeer
Hauling the turtle raft to the pond yesterday, I chased up some killdeer, the shore birds that nest around the dry bare fields and cow pastures calling "kill-dee, kill-dee..."   

They nest right on the bare ground.  A favorite challenge of our boyhood was for my brother's and I trying to find the killdeer nest -- right out in the open with no disguise at all.  

If you got close to the nest, the parent would try to lure you away calling and faking a broken wing to get you to follow (a fox would likely be fooled."   So you went the opposite direction and watched the bird change directions -- the nest would be in the opposite direction of the bird's actions.  

Finally we might find the nest--almost stepping on it without seeing the eggs right there in plain sight, exposed to the ground but camouflaged.  

Killdeer hatchlings are like baby chickens, born to be on the move and scratch for a living under the parents supervision and protection--fuzzy little balls on running feet. 

Instead of finding the nest, I found a pair in their mating ritual--something interesting to view!   An article from the internet describes what I was watching. 

"The male and female of a mated pair pick out a nesting site through a ritual known as a scrape ceremony. The male lowers his breast to the ground and scrapes a shallow depression with his feet. The female then approaches, head lowered, and takes his place. The male then stands with body tilted slightly forward, tail raised and spread, calling rapidly. Mating often follows." 

See if you can spot the behaviors in the photos below

Dead standing jackpine sticks with an old piece of a calf pen to connect them.  A place for turtles to sun themselves

If you build it, will they come?