The wildfire smoke finally started to clear out of the air, so Robb and I went cycling. There wasn't a whole lot of nature running around, but we did see this tiny Killdeer family. Killdeer are in the same family as shorebirds like plovers and avocets, but they don't need to live right next to water. Killdeer are rather small birds, less than the size of an American Robin. The babies are tiny!
Killdeer babies, like baby chickens and ducks, hatch ready to run. Unlike most baby songbirds, which are born blind and bald and helpless, Killdeer babies are running around, just as soon as their feathers dry from hatching. They look like long-legged versions of their parents from the day they are born.
Killdeer get their name from the cry they make (kill-DEER! kill-DEER!), and Robb and I were speculating if the babies might be called Kill Fawns. They are about as graceful and gangly as baby deer. We saw this little fellow try to jump up onto a muddy hill. It couldn't quite make the leap, and went rolling down the the tiny embankment.
Killdeer nests are (like the terns we visited recently) just a scraped-out depression on the ground. It seemed to us that this little baby was happy to call anywhere it could nestle under his parent a "nest." It would chase the parent and then snuggle underneath. So cute!
Even though the babies are running all over the place, they are very difficult to spot. Can you find the little one in this photo?
Here is an interesting article on Killdeer.