Saturday, July 17, 2010
M6 chicks still around, hope for George and Martha's chicks
The chicks are 2 weeks old:
The "M6" chicks appear to be still alive and doing well even though I can't physically find them. But, dad is still very protective of the area and got upset when I stood near a bunch of bushes. He even did a trill and a partial broken wing act. I thought I also saw another adult female in the area, but she flew off to the other point to the east to be with another male. I think I heard at least one, possibly two chicks calling back to dad, but at nearly two weeks, they would not be as desperate for dad's attention as they were before. So, they may have chosen to stay quiet.
I did not want to search too much in the brush as I know that "Digger" likes to bury herself. I chose to listen for her response instead. Dad was fixated on keeping watch over that area even time I went away.
When I went over to the other point (across a small bay from where the Dad was) the Dad continued to do calls each time he saw me walking near the water while I was over there even though I was, supposedly, not a threat to his chicks. Or, was I? I could hear a definite chick response while I was over there. I doubt that a chick could call that loudly from across the little bay, but it's possible. Or, perhaps one of the chicks decided to follow mom to that area and is hiding nearby. That could be why dad was giving out warning calls. Male killdeer will probably not cross over to another male's territory even to "save" his own chicks. Hence, the "warning" calls.
Hope for Tiny, Killer and Firecracker, George and Martha's "Lost" Chicks
The M6 Dad's behavior was similar to George's, (M2) even though it is thought that George and Martha (F3) lost their chicks over a week ago. George and Martha were last both seen together at least twice without a chick in sight or sound, very usual for week old chicks. It is thought that their chicks were lost. However, after a few days of relative quietness and calm, George is acting very, very protective. Not quite as protective as the M6 Dad, but more nervous and protective than usual. He continues to give warning calls long after I walk away from him and am out of his sight. This is unusual as he usually quiets down after I've walked far enough away from him or show no interest. It doesn't matter when or where George sees me, but if he sees me, he always gives the alarm call. He could be on either side of the parking area or across the bay.
George got really upset when I headed toward a rocky jetty toward a fenced area and followed me there. He didn't fly at me or trill, but his calls got more upset and desperate. I wonder if Martha maybe went with the chicks over to that area past the fence where people don't usually go. Hopefully, if that's the case, Martha will bring the chicks back when they can fly and I can see how many survived.
Martha's plan to "move" the chicks may have been precipitated by the arrival of George's old mate (and possible mother to "Junior" (aka Little Male)) Mary. Mary arrived the day before the chicks "disappeared" and was seen with George and Martha two days later in that area. I haven't seen Martha since. Perhaps George "cheated" with his former mate and perhaps Martha "left with the kids". Just like M6's mate may have "left" the Dad to be with another male and Dad stayed behind with the kids.
You just never know with killdeer. And, since George is an experienced Dad, it's possible that he outsmarted me by moving the babies out of my reach. Here's to happy hope for a healthy Tiny, Killer and Firecracker, the three chicks of Martha and George.