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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chicks' debut or new fall arrivals?

Aren't I cute? Little female's breastband looks like Martha's

Today started out like any other day at the lake, except that I almost stepped right on George and Martha as I entered into the park. I didn't see them until I was only a few feet away and they took off without making a sound. They were both very calm. A little spotted sandpiper made his appearance, too, following me around as I looked at the ducks and fed them some peas.

Martha and a sandpiper early in the morning

It was strange, no crows, blackbirds and grackles were seen or heard in George and Martha's little part of the world.

At the ballfield, I initially found 7 killdeer and then went to go look at the ducks in Del Cerro Bay. I saw two juvenile Cooper's hawks there. The little duckling was there and swimming right towards the hawks, but I think he ended up hiding in or near some reeds, so I think he was safe for the day. The grackles were spending the day on Del Cerro Point as well as near Cowles point, too. Very few grackles seen today. I the hawks are putting some pressure on them to leave the area.

Back at the ballpark, the second time I came around, I found ten killdeer there. One killdeer was calling on Cowles Point, but then flew over into the ballfield. When I looked, there seemed to be one or two possible small adults, maybe recently fledged chicks. I couldn't be sure as it's also getting close to having fall arrivals migrating into the area. It's still early, but they could start arriving at any time.

One of the small ones was a slim male, very dark in color.

The other small one might be a female.

When I went back to George and Martha's "home", I heard the sounds of territorial killdeer calls. George and Martha were on one side of the bay and two other killdeers were on the other. A third killdeer, a male, may have also been near the other two. George flew off when I got too close and made loud territorial calls all over his territory, even on the north side. Martha flew off and landed close to the invading couple and got into an argument with the invading male.

I went around to the other side and George had returned. I could see George and Martha totally puffed up and angry, mostly directing their anger mostly towards a male with a white feather on his back. I originally thought it was M4 (Grandpa killdeer), but his breast band was different than this one. There also was a small, cute, adorable little female killdeer who didn't seem to be interested in fighting at all. I thought I saw Martha make an aggressive move towards her, but if she did, she wasn't serious. Most of the attention was on Whitefeather, the large adult male. And, Whitefeather's attention was divided between Martha and George and the little pale-colored female.

George "dips" while Whitefeather goes around to confront him. The little female is on the right.

George (on rock) Martha (Left front) and Whitefeather (Left behind). All puffed up.

The little female seemed more interested in what I was doing and started to watch me take pictures of her. She didn't seem afraid of me at all, but cautious. Eventually, she pretty much walked right up to me, almost unafraid. I was hoping that this was Firecracker, the little female chick whom I thought was dead almost five weeks ago. She would be about 38 or 39 days old now, the right time for a killdeer chick to make her appearance into the open world and into killdeer society.

The little female on the left starts to come up to me while Whitefeather watches her and George and Martha watch him

Female chicks almost immediately get courted by adult males when they come out into the open. It's possible that mom and dad were defending her as she is not full grown for another two weeks. It also explained the arrival of another full-grown male on the scene, interested in all the hub-bub. I don't think that other male is Tiny or Killer, Firecracker's brothers, but I will have to get a better look to see next time.

However, this female is very pale and that often indicates that she may be an older female and not a chick. I've noticed that younger killdeer seem to be darker brown than the older ones and they get paler as they get older. But, I haven't confirmed that theory, yet. I have noticed that George, who used to be golden brown has started to get paler over the last year, especially at the base of some of his feathers. But, her color is mostly evenly spread throughout her body and that might indicate youth.

The little female passes within a couple feet of me. She has algae in her mouth

The male who was interested in this female began to become concerned for her as she walked away and started following with Martha following behind. George continued to stand on a rock and proclaim his territory until another human being walked by and scared them away.

George demands that everyone come back and fight with him

If this little female is Firecracker, her brothers may make their appearance next.

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