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, July 20, 2010

"Sounds" like the M6 chicks are doing OK and "chick sounds" in George's territory?

Today, the road was closed where the M6 dad and his chicks were because they were cutting down trees in that area. I went over to Del Cerro Bay and stood where the dad, M6, would see me across on the other side of the water. Immediately, he began making "chick round-up" calls (short, sharp calls for communicating with family members). I thought I heard the response from one of his chicks from that far away, too. They were in the same place where I saw them on Sunday, out of the way of the workers so far.

In the baseball fields, three couples of killdeer along with a lot of other birds were feeding. A Cooper's hawk tried to catch one of them, but they all flew off. I don't know if the hawk was aiming for the killdeer (who first sounded the alarm) or for the fifty or sixty other birds using that field. She missed, by the way, and ended up with nothing and in a tree, possibly with a male. I don't know if the killdeer came back later or if anything happened to them after that. Knowing how cautious killdeer are, they probably didn't return to the area until they were sure she was gone. But, two of them are very possessive over that field and may have returned early.

When I first came across George in the morning, he began making alarm calls. He continued as long as he could see me. When I disappeared for a second, he stopped, but when he saw me again, he continued. When I arrived at Padre Bay, where he had the chicks, he began calling again. I looked over to his side of the lake and saw two other killdeer attacking each other, but George was not involved and continued doing alarm calls. I found out later that it was Martha and Mary who were fighting. I found them later on the other side of the parking lot near the entrance to the lake. George began calling and I thought I heard a chick responding from some brush, but my directional hearing is not that good and it could have been either Martha or Mary responding from close by. I saw no visual sign of a chick in that area and all three killdeer became extremely quiet. I didn't want to disturb them as they often got quiet when a hawk was around and maybe there was a hawk in their area, too.

Martha on the left, Mary on the right

Martha and Mary seem to be tolerating each other whenever I observe them, but Martha seemed really tense. The attack I saw earlier was near where I last saw the chicks. There has to be chicks over there as I don't think Martha or George would be so adamant to protect their turf after possibly loosing them over a week ago. George still calls if he sees me across any bay or water, but doesn't react as if a chick is nearby like the M6 male does. George didn't start doing this until last Saturday when the chicks disappeared. I don't think killdeers "hold on" to the hope that a missing chick will show up again. So, I think there has to be some chicks somewhere, possibly hiding. Hopefully, they are alright without their mom and dad shadowing them.

The lake water level is rising back to normal levels. This means that it will be very hard for me to observe any new chicks on Padre Point as many of the areas where I observed them before are not easily accessible because the water comes right up to the bushes. But, this is a good thing for the killdeer as it means safer access to food for the chicks as they will have cover close by.

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