The killdeer eggs that the Ustream killdeer camera in Wisconsin were broadcasting on are gone and the camera is now down. Last night, mom and dad were acting differently and many people thought that meant that the chicks had actually hatched after waiting 34 days. But, they did not. Before settling down for the night, I could see that the male was sitting on the nest and he was doing the typical territorial call "kill-dee" "kill-dee" over and over again (I couldn't hear him, but could see the motions that looked like he was calling). This may have been a sign that they were getting ready to breed again. Either that or another male was eying their patch of rocks. I checked on them well after dark and it looked like the male was still on the nest, though it was dark and hard to see.
This morning, when I got up, all three eggs were completely gone. I knew that they didn't hatch as they were way overdue, but wondered if they got pushed out. Later, the stream owner, Pkonopa, found a half an egg about 15 feet away with an almost developed chick inside, untouched. It appeared that a predator had gotten to the eggs. However, the nest looked pretty much undisturbed with even the pine needles pretty much still in their place. It's entirely possible that the parents had pushed the eggs away from the nest and a predator got them later. The parents never returned to the nest that day.
I am hoping that they will choose that same patch of rocks to breed again as the stream owner can only set up a camera from his office. He/she said there are always killdeer around, but he/she couldn't tell if the parents were nearby. I've heard reports of killdeer having a destroyed nest and then laying another clutch nearby a week later, so that's what I am hoping for.
It appears that the wet and cold weather about two weeks ago might have killed the chicks while they were still in the egg. Those parents were so diligent and devoted to their nest that I am glad to see it's gone. Otherwise, I think they would have sat on them all summer and missed their chance to breed. Now, I am really hoping they will come back to that patch of rocks and try again. My hunch is that they will as there's a lot of food there and the eggs blend in well. Also, they were relatively undisturbed and seemed comfortable with nesting there.
Males during breeding season rarely leave their territory until the season is over. However, his territory can be large and he may just decide that a bunch of rocks near an office parking lot may not be as good as the short grass near the creek behind the building (of which I don't know is the case with this area as I haven't seen the entire grounds).
I hope I can see some kind of killdeer cam and see some chicks hatch and make it out of the nest, without getting hurt, soon.
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