Wednesday, July 14, 2010
M2 acting weird, M6 chicks and Mom missing, and a Quiet Female
M2 is acting "weird"
It was a very warm morning this morning. When I arrived at the lake, I saw no sign of killdeers at the entrance. I walked around the north side of the parking lot and found M2 near the east end. He immediately began making alarm calls. I walked away, but he continued to call even when I was very far away. In fact, he didn't stop calling until I was out of sight.
When I came to "Padre Point" where M2 and F3 like to nest, he began to call again--from across the lake. His calls became more excited when I headed to the area where the chicks liked to hide. However, I did not see any other killdeer or eggs. M2 continued to call even after I walked out of the area until I was out of sight.
When I came back a couple of hours later and walked across the shore in that area, he began to call again across the lake. When I went through the brush to the "display area" (this is where M2 likes to do distraction displays when his chicks were hiding), M2 got really upset and flew over and began to call me to chase him through the display area. He continued to make alarm calls until I was well out of the area and began to make them again when I showed up on the other side of the lake on the beach. I could hear him make calls for his mate and after making those, he calmed down and only made a few alarm calls calming down to none.
Does this mean that they've already started to lay a new nest? I see no signs of his females, but females can be very quiet while nesting if they need to. I never found the first nest before. Also, Little Male, their son, was residing in that north side beach in the past, so that may have had an effect on their behavior regarding their nests before. Little Male is now somewhere else with his own nest, so M2 is free to call and roam the area.
M2 has always been a very friendly male letting me get very close to him and rarely ever made alarm calls if I kept my distance. This is a total change in behavior. It could be that he is especially nervous about his new nest and wants to make sure it's completely safe. I am going to try to keep more of a distance this time with him and his chicks, should I be privileged to know them and see them. I may even rent a better lens so that I can get photos of the chicks running around and not crouching on the ground.
M6 chicks and Mom missing
I needed to check on the status of the M6 chicks because more construction on the lake is being planned right in their exact area. When I first arrived, I found no killdeer. Walking along the beach, I did find the dad killdeer in a very hard to reach area where I had first found the chicks long ago. Dad was very excited to see me there, but there was no sign of Mom or the chicks. Dad killdeer followed me around as I searched and seemed to get very excited when I looked into the reeds, but I heard no response to his calls. He was acting very much like F3 did the first morning her chicks were missing--it was like he was sure they were there, but he didn't know where.
When I left the area, he began calling for his mate and chicks and did not stop. I did notice a crow or hawk under a shade tree, but it didn't not excite him. It was very sad as he never got an answer to his calls.
Whatever happened to them happened last night as Dad doesn't seem to be convinced that they're gone. What's strange is that the mom is nowhere to be seen. I thought, perhaps, she just left early after the chicks disappearance, or that Dad was hanging on longer than she did, or she became a victim of whatever got the chicks.
But, I remember back to other killdeer stories where a family was attacked while brooding the chicks at night and one parent and the remaining chicks disappear. It's entirely possible that the mom ran away with the chicks to another location and that the dad, in the excitement, didn't know which way they went. She may be in another male's territory and the Dad may not want to follow her. Or, one or two of the chicks were caught by something and Mom went with the other ones to a safer area and Dad was sticking behind "just in case" the missing chicks were only hiding nearby.
With killdeer, sometimes you just don't know in regards to their chicks. So, until Dad makes a new nest (or behaves like he's going to), I'm going to assume those chicks are alive with mom and maybe I'll see them again when they're bigger. I may check on them tomorrow to see if Dad's behavior changes to being a non-parent.
A Quiet Female
It's highly possible that there is a nest in the M8 area. I heard killdeer chirps and calls that sounded like a killdeer calling their mate in that area. When I went to check, I didn't see or hear anything. When I passed through that area later, I decided to check there and didn't hear anything, but saw a female foraging in part of that area. She flew away and didn't make a sound. I tried, twice, to take her photo, but she flew away across the lake before I could do so. She made no sounds at all. Very strange.
She looked a little bit like the female that was in the M2 territory earlier, not quite a smooth band, but almost a V shape with a little black rectangle underneath.