Thursday, September 23, 2010
Teenage killdeers in love
The first thing I saw when I arrived was Killer (George's son) and Shy (M6 dad's daughter from across the lake) all alone near the fence, but they flew away to their family. While I was at the fence, I checked to see if George and Martha were hiding young chicks behind there, but saw nothing. Nor did either parent get upset that I was over there, so there may not be any more chicks around.
The lake level is really low and the entire family plus Shy and her dad were there. George and the M6 dad were always at it. One time, they got up and flew around, chasing each other. They flew right at a Cooper's hawk trying to catch a dove or pigeon. The other five killdeers on the ground did alarm calls as soon as they saw the hawks, all in unison. But, the adult males continued flying around, finally landing and thus ending the alarm calls.
Later, the M6 dad and Shy went to the other side of the parking lot. Killer followed, but kept his distance. But, all the other killdeer began flying around to different points of the lake, calling and fighting. Killer stayed behind and when I approached him, he did a half-broken wing act for an unknown reason. It looks like he still hasn't gotten all his adult display feathers.
Many of the killdeer were flying to areas where I don't usually see them. One area is usually full of ducks, but there were none this time. I noticed a killdeer, I think it might have been George, flew there before joining the others at different points of the lake. The only killdeer at the ballfields was the little baby 8 week old, Surprise.
All four Cooper's hawks were very busy and making the killdeer very nervous. I think the hawks were having a hard time catching anything, probably due to the low water levels and the lack of doves. The adult male Cooper's hawk attacked an osprey trying to get dinner. I, at first, thought the osprey was another regular hawk and was scared for the killdeer when it swooped close to them. But, ospreys eat almost totally fish. They may take a chick or egg if they come across one and possibly some snails and slugs, but they are no treat to adult birds or mammals.
The low water levels must be making all the birds cranky. The Chinese gander, who has bitten me several times, but not seriously or often, decided to grab my calf and not let go! He was in a rage and I don't know why. I've been trying to be his friend for months, but he just won't turn around.
Besides the osprey, whom I couldn't get a photo of, I found the two spotted sandpipers in an odd spot of the lake.
And, two Western seagulls who seem to be either courting or doing territorial displays: