Hello! Most of my posts take place around San Diego County, (Mostly Lake Murray) unless otherwise noted.
For more posts and photos, I also post on Hubpages, a site that is a bit different than others. Thanks!: Shorebirdie on Hubpages

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Killdeer Update, M2 and F3 "missing"

M1, Little Male, in an area where seed is given to the doves. M1's sore on the front of his chest has healed.

I couldn't find any sign of M2 or his mate today. At one time, I thought I heard an alarm and territorial call from him when M1 was forced to cross the lake by someone walking their dog. But, I think it might have been my ears playing trick with me. I didn't see him when I got to the lake and I didn't see him when I came back. I haven't heard or seen of any headless bird bodies, so it's unlikely that the grackles got him. The grackles have actually been behaving reasonably well towards the other birds (and people) so far. So, it's very likely that M2 is in his nesting area with his mate and eggs.

I've noticed that killdeers have two parts to their territories: a feeding area (where they are most of the time) and a nesting area that is usually within sight of their feeding territory. This may be an adaptation to living with "smart" predators like crows, grackles, and ravens who watch the habits of the birds whose babies or eggs they eat. The males spend most of their time in their feeding area, only visiting their nesting area once in a while to "show" the nesting site to a prospective mate and to check on it's current safety level. After the chicks hatch, they may or may not bring them to the feeding area depending on how safe the parents feel that area is. That is probably why killdeer families "disappear" after the first day or two after they hatch. The family is brought to a "feeding area".

I still have not found where M2's nesting area is. It's undoubtedly within sight of his territory, but that could me a mile away on the other side of the lake. I am hoping that by the time the chicks are a day old, most of the grackles will be done nesting and be out of the area or in fewer numbers. But, it appears that some of the grackles are building new nests, including a pair in M4's area. However, I think that pair may disperse when the ravens decide to return to the area. Grackles do hang out with other blackbirds, but I don't think they like ravens and crows, especially when they're outnumbered. If I start seeing F3, M2's mate, more frequently in the future, I am going to assume that their nest was a failure.

Speaking of M4, I don't exactly know where his nesting area is, but I have a suspicion that it's in the area with the grackles. If the grackle number stays low (1-4 individuals), the killdeer may be OK and not be bothered. But, I think it's more likely that the nesting area is in M7's area as M4 is constantly "watching" that area and fighting off other males who try to take residence there.

Today, M4's voice was nearly gone. He could hardly call above a whisper. He seemed very nervous while I was there and was having such a hard time with his voice that I thought I should leave so that he could get his voice back. No sign of "Bo" anywhere.

I thought I heard a killdeer in the M8 area today doing an alarm call. It's hard to tell because there's so many finches and phoebes making a lot of noise that it was hard to tell. I didn't go and check it out. Chances are that it's the "Deets", but it could be M2 as the "Deets" showed up in this area last time M2 was missing (though the "Deets" looked and acted like totally different killdeer, maybe they could actually be M2 and F3 all puffed up or something). Killdeer behavior does change when they are in their breeding areas, mostly with more nervousness and defensiveness.


  1. Wow, a whole blog on Killdeer! Fascinating! :D

  2. LOL. I plan to go back to the finches and phoebes when I don't have as much time to follow the killdeer around. Phoebes and finches are such a big part of the habitat the killdeer are in, anyway.