Friday, September 3, 2010
Digger (or Shy) "flirts" with dad in the ballfield
Lake Murray Ballfield Killdeer
I saw a really small, cute female in one of the ballfields with the M6 (Beautiful) Dad. She was really close to a fence and when I went over to see her, she crouched down on the ground and tried to hide in the grass. She appears to be around 8 weeks old, but still a little undersized. The dad constantly called and chirped to her when she made her alarm calls and trills at me. I think it might have been one of the two female chicks from the M6 area, most likely Digger.
Eventually, she calmed down and started over towards her dad. It appeared that she was flirting with him as her behavior was totally strange. She would crouch down and seem tease him. When he came up to her, she would get up and run away. I don't know if she was being a flirt or trying to entice her dad into a game of chase by flashing her red tail feathers at him. Her dad responded with a swelled up neck and puffed up chest feathers, but little else. He may have been puffed up to warn other males to stay away from his daughter.
It's possible that the lack of a mom around may have confused her a little when it comes to flirting with her dad. Normally, the mom would be nearby to nip that kind of behavior from the beginning. But, it wasn't serious and I don't think she knew what she was doing. When a starling broke them up, the young female went back to feeding and the dad was shadowing her, not acting like he was interested in her other than protecting her. I think they tend to be at least 4 months old before they breed, so she's got a while to go. And, it's likely that another male will claim her before then (especially if she's a flirt).
I'm glad to see them because they're really ripping it up in their territory. Here's a photo of the road being torn apart only a few feet from where the chicks used to hide:
George and Martha's Family
When I was leaving, I didn't expect to find any killdeers in Alvarado Bay as the water level was really high and George doesn't like it that high. But, when I was walking through a grassy area, a large killdeer flew off. It called and even though I couldn't see it, it sounded like it landed passed the fenced area and called to a second killdeer nearby. I couldn't get a photo of the first killdeer, but I think it was Tiny as the second killdeer was Firecracker. Even when they were chicks, they were almost always together. Firecracker flew off and I thought I saw her going to a little bay on the north side, but when I got there, she was gone. I can't figure out where they go when they go to the north side.
George and Martha haven't been seen for over a week and I'm beginning to suspect that they may have a new nest and possibly new chicks. George becomes very parental the last week before the eggs hatch and the first week the chicks are around. I saw Martha flirting with George about a month ago, so that would mean that the eggs, if there are any, have hatched. Unfortunately, I can't get to that area to check on them.
Also, the third chick, Killer, hasn't been seen for a while, but he was always scared of people and being out in the open. When he was a chick, from the third day, he always lagged behind to stay hidden longer. So, he may still be with mom and dad, which would indicate that there are probably no new chicks, yet.
A spotted sandpiper. I didn't notice the piece of plastic when I took this photo or I would have picked it up:
A bunch of baby grebes and a parent:
Two ganders (the brown one can be bitey):
I think this might be an Anna's hummingbird because it has a red crown. This guy was demanding that I take his photo: