Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A tennis-loving Killdeer couple sets up house...

Rick and Matty have been playing tennis at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, OH for the past couple of weekends and in the evenings during the week. The first weekend in June, all three of us were volunteers at the Serving it Up for Special Olympics fundraiser, which was also held there. While all this activity was going on, a Killdeer couple decided the best place to nest was right in the middle of the action...

A Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) stands over four eggs
If you look on the ground to the left of this sweet Killdeer, you'll see four speckled eggs. I had my long lens with me, so I was pretty far away, but people were walking all around this bird, not realizing four beautiful eggs were just off the sidewalk in the mulch. The Killdeer blended in so well, people didn't see the bird unless he or she started moving.

Killdeer often nest in suburban settings, but I've never seen one nest right in the center of a major tennis complex! The managers of the facility are very careful and protective of their nesting birds, and the gardeners know to stay away from the nest, so the eggs can hatch.

Close-up of Killdeer eggs and a nest scraped into the mulch.
...a closer look at the well-camouflaged eggs. If you didn't know they were there, you would never see them. A Killdeer nest is just a scrape in the ground, or in this case, in the mulch alongside the sidewalk.

A Killdeer parent sitting on a nest tucked into a mulch bed alongside a sidewalk.
A Killdeer is a plover, and even though in Ohio suburbs they usually nest in open fields near a little gravel, they do like to be around water too...but I've never seen one hang out around a water sprinkler like this bird!

A Killdeer in a broken-wing display.
A nesting Killdeer wouldn't be a parent without a little broken-wing distraction display. While one bird sat on the nest, the other did a little flapping around looking like it was injured or had a broken wing. The ploy was a distraction to try to lure pedestrians away from the nest. 

A Killdeer in a broken-wing display.
...and it worked. The tennis players watched the "injured" bird  and stayed away from the nest. Eventually the bird flew off after another miraculous recovery, knowing the eggs were safe.

25 comments:

Elaine said...

Wonderful photos, Kelly! Amazing that they would pick a spot like that to lay their eggs.

holdingmoments said...

These are beautiful Kelly.
I hope they manage to hatch their eggs safely; it doesn't look the safest place to nest.
Very much like our Little Ringed Plover we get here.

Roy said...

We have Killdeer here, too. I was so used to seeing them in the salt marshes back in RI that I'd forgotten that they were also inland field dwellers. I've noticed some hovering parents in the fields around here, but yours is the first time I've seen them so close to human traffic. Great shots!

Montanagirl said...

Love the photos, Kelly! I'm surprised as well that they'd choose such a busy place to nest!

TexWisGirl said...

wonderful photos of these two. they really nest in the worst locations!

Janice K said...

Marvelous pictures!! They are so beautiful and have such an interesting walk. I had never seen their eggs--wow! how they blend in to the background.

I don't see them here in the woods, but I used to see them nearby running along the roadside.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Amazing. What sweet and brave little birds! I love it when wild creatures can live out their little lives alongside us safely.

Frank said...

Superb images Kelly.

Just goes to show that we can all live safely together with a bit of consideration.

Lois Evensen said...

What a wonderful series! I wonder how Mamma will feel when the sprinkler comes on. :\

Julie Rowan-Zoch said...

Beautiful pictures, thanks!

Roy Norris said...

Super images Kelly.

Betsy Adams said...

How neat, Kelly.. BUT--those crazy Kildeers do build their nests in 'interesting' places. BUT--they'll do what they can to protect the nest, won't they??? Great photos.

Hope you are having a nice summer so far.
Hugs,
Betsy

Elva Paulson said...

Great shots of one of my favorite birds.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Wonderful photos hopefully the little family bwill thrive.

Guy

troutbirder said...

Wonderful images. It's a miracle most survive with these nesting habits at least in the cities...;)

Toni Kelly said...

Amazing where they build their nest and how the babies take off running right after hatching.

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly... Thanks for stopping by !!
I just love your shot of the Killdeer I just love these guys but have a hard time catching up with them, as the are usually on the wing or running with quick spurts : ))!!
They do find strange places to nest, and lucky for you it was at the Tennis center lol!!
Great shots of the nest and all loved this post!!
I fell lucky to have the 3 pic's I put on a post about a week age : )
Grace

thatoneoldguy said...

as usual...great photos!

Tammie Lee said...

hello Kelly,

you take such wonderful photographs
such a charming bird to see and watch.

Banjo52 said...

Great mix of photos and storyline again. Catching the broken wing ruse is just excellent!

Mary said...

Wonderful photos! Killdeer can pick the worst places to put nests possible. It is amazing they survive so well. We almost parked out car on top of a nest in a parking lot once....scary! I would love to see the babies sometime. I know they hatch ready to run, but they have to be very cute.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! The couple is still there going strong! They are incredibly cool birds...and brave too.

E said...

Beautiful pics, Kelly, thanks for sharing your magic. Abrazos

E said...

Beautiful, Kelly, thanks for your magic.
Abrazos

Sublime Birdy said...

This is fascinating especially the information about the bird faking the broken wing! Great pictures Kelly!