The Killdeer Chronicles – Part 10

Our Killdeer eggs are scheduled to hatch anywhere between tomorrow (May 17) and Monday (May 21) if my calculations are correct (not always a great assumption!) so we’ll be waiting and watching and we’ll provide an update as soon as there’s any activity! You may remember from previous posts, we have only one day to see the little babies. They leave the nest almost immediately and rarely stay in our yard more than one day after they hatch. We’ll be watching closely so we don’t miss them!

Meanwhile, we have some pictures to share. First, here are a few from our current nesting.

The killdeer take turns sitting on their eggs but occasionally they’ll both leave for a few minutes, allowing us to get a picture! This is fairly current (05/10).

We don’t usually know for sure which bird is the father and which is the mother because in this breed they are similarly colored (different from, say, cardinals, bluebirds, house finches, etc. where you can tell male from female by color alone) but by the time you’re done reading this post you will understand how this time, we know. This is the mom.

Mama killdeer incubating

Mama killdeer incubating

The remainder of this post speaks to the conception process. There is nothing vulgar or crude about it however if you are reading along with small children you may wish to have a response prepared to “Mommy, why is he climbing on top of her?” Or, maybe just close up shop for now. 🙂

I tend to make assumptions about wildlife that are inevitably wrong, and that happened this week too. In fact it happened several times. One of the assumptions was this: I thought when the birds were actively incubating a clutch (nesting of eggs) they would not engage in any activities of a reproductive nature. Apparently I was very wrong, as this pair put on a show for us right in the middle of our backyard with two of us sitting right on the patio in full view, even with their current nest not twenty feet away. Don’t get me wrong, we see this a lot. I have just never seen it during a current incubation cycle.

Whenever we see it, I’m never sure whether we should watch. Seems it should be a private affair. But, in the interest of learning, we’ll of course include the pictures!

The male puffs himself up in order to let his mate know what’s on his mind

A bit of courtship dancing

More dancing

The final stage of the dance. Notice the female’s raised tail feathers.

The cloacal kiss

(If you’re not familiar with the term “cloacal kiss” I’ve explained it in an installment of our Bluebird Diaries earlier in the season.)

The Killdeer will lay a second batch of eggs later this summer, but not usually until about a month after these eggs hatch. So I’m not sure if this was just for fun (I doubt it!) or if it indeed serves a practical purpose for future eggs. I will need to do some research!

Check back tomorrow, we’re on hatch watch!

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This entry was posted in Birding, First 2012 Killdeer Nesting, The Killdeer Chronicles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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