Hello! Most of my posts take place around San Diego County, (Mostly Lake Murray) unless otherwise noted.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chicks-Day 6, Parents leading them into danger?

The smallest male killdeer, getting bigger

Today, I decided just to go check on M2 and F3's chicks at the lake and that's all. I didn't have to go far, they were only about 1/8 of a mile from the parking lot. It appears that their parents (mostly the father, I'd bet) are leading them to the open area with about 100 crows, grackles and seagulls, not to mention a lot of ducks. The poor chicks won't have a chance.

Or, perhaps, they're not doing that just yet. It may be that the moved to this area because it has more food like tons and tons and ants and other insects. They may be teaching their babies more on what to eat. I think there isn't a whole lot to eat where they were before. Also, I suspect that another killdeer has laid eggs in the area where they were hatched--most likely their son, Little Male (whose name is going to be changed because there is another Little Male now). The female didn't look like his mate with the smooth band, but perhaps it's her with ruffed up feathers making her breast-band not so smooth.

I found the two near a drainage area where turtles and herons tend to congregate. They must have walked over there over the course of the day yesterday and last night. The parents actually went up to the bend of the road and almost got hit by three very fast cyclists. I sure hope that doesn't happen when I'm not around. A gnatcatcher father was found dead near there and I think it was hit by someone on a bike. But, after those bikes went by, they avoided going to that area on foot. And, by the time I left, they were no longer going up to the road at all.

It's possible that the dad might lead them across the road and parking lot to his favorite feeding area with lots of little sand flies all along the water. I hope he waits at least a week or two before he does that. It makes me nervous for them to be where they're at, especially with the near-miss with the bikes. But, I have to trust that they're experienced and successful parents and know what they're doing. However, I don't think there were as many grackles in the area last time as there are now.

Today, I only saw two chicks, the smallest and the big female, but a third one was definitely heard nearby. I went and photographed them and found that the small male (the two smallest are male) had run into an area and froze on a huge pile of ants. I could tell they were biting him all over, so I quickly left, but when I came back, he was still there. I picked him up (something I try never to do as I could easily harm the chick, get parasites/diseases and the fact that he doesn't want me to touch him, either) and moved him to another spot. But, he was listless when I put him down, and slowly crawled back to the pile of ants. I moved him again and he showed a little life kicking and protesting. I then left for a minute and came back to find that he had disappeared, so all is well. He was heard calling for his parents later on.

The tiny killdeer is getting bit by ants around his head and belly

The big female chick has doubled in size

I informed some people who were fishing along the lake and picking up trash about the little babies running around. I also picked up some trash and fishing line in the area. All the chicks had moved closer to the parking lot by the time I left. There's nothing I can really do if that's where they want to be. I can't move them if their parents want them to be there as they would lead them right back. So, I will just have to trust the parents' judgment and experience. Perhaps these chicks are tougher than they seem.

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