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

Monday, July 12, 2010

M2 and F3 now acting like non-parents, update on M6 chicks

One of the M6 chicks running around in the brush

M2 and F3 are back to their ways before the chicks hatched. I went to their nesting area and the couple was still together along with the second female. They acted like the air had been popped out of their balloon. They hardly made any cries and the ones they did mostly came from M2 and were weak and sounded sad. They did get a little upset when I walked around the bushes in the area possibly where the nest used to be, but I didn't have to walk far before they quieted down. They didn't follow me around anywhere and just seemed lethargic.

Maybe I'm just projecting my feelings on them because I feel awfully sad when I think about those cute little chicks having something painful happen to them. I think the parents made that fatal mistake to take them over to the area with the grackles and crows too soon. I can't believe all three disappeared so quickly. I feel that the low lake level made it easy to take the chicks to this area and it may or may not have happened if they weren't able to get easily over to that side of the lake.

But. . . you never know about killdeer, they always surprise you. It's entirely possible that they are being hidden, still and are safe, but I doubt it.

For comparison, I went over to the M6 area and found that they had two, possibly three chicks still around. I definitely saw two large chicks with long tails running around. I tried to get a photo of them running, but there was constant blockage with plants, etc. I did get two good photos of them trying to hide. I just hope I didn't step on the third one to get to one of these two. I thought I heard the third one calling later on, but I never saw it. I even came back later to make sure I didn't disrupt the family, stood far away and watched with binoculars. I saw two very healthy, cute, active female chicks running out to the water and then back to dad, who was guarding them. They were huge, too! Probably about 1/4 the size of an adult and very well fed. All is well over there.

M6 Dad, beautiful

Little female chick, hiding

2nd female chick, hiding

Another view of her

A passerby told me that the eggs were laid under a tree in that area and they probably hatched around July 4th, too. There were four eggs to begin with, I definitely heard three chicks the last time I saw them, and there are definitely two there now. Coyotes live in the area as well as some grackles and crows, too. But, there is a lot of cover hiding them. If all goes well, they should be flying in approximately three weeks.

I went back to M2 and F3's nesting area again a couple of hours later and there were no killdeer there. Back in M2's feeding area, he was wrestling with three other male killdeers. I recognized at least one to be the roaming males I see around. There was also a little sanderling running around and I mistook it to be the female killdeer chick at first as it's not that much bigger than her, but, of course, it wasn't.

The killdeer males and the sanderling

The killdeer were acting really strange towards the sanderling. I heard angry trills almost like a parent protecting a chick, or it could be a warning to the sanderling to stay away. All four crowded in on it and almost acted like they were going to attack it. But, eventually, all of them, including the sanderling flew off together each trying to attack each other. I am wondering if M2 thought the sanderling was a chick and was trying to protect it with his trills (or they just don't like sanderlings being around).

No sign of F3 or any other female around. I wonder how long it will take for her to lay a new nest.

Also seen nearby was the Cooper's hawk and a red-tailed hawk that managed to catch a squirrel.

Cooper's hawk

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