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Unexpected Arrivals in the Garden!

killdeer eggs

We got out to the garden on April 12, to put in some cooler weather plant starts (snow peas, collards and cabbage). We have some wood chips covering our garden beds, and it makes them warmer than the bare soil. Apparently the local Killdeer agreed, so here’s where they started their brood.

killdeer egg

At first, I thought it had to be quail eggs, as a ground bird. On Monday (April 14), we found a fourth egg. After quite some research about northern Illinois birds that laid eggs on bare, open ground, we found a clutch of four eggs was normal for Killdeer before they begin brooding the eggs.

snow

It snowed on April 14, for the last time this Spring. We hoped those eggs and parents would withstand that snow! Here are our garden plots on that day.

 

 

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We finally saw one of the parents on the nest!

mamakilldeer2

This shot of the father was taken from quite some distance. The males also brood. He was a wuss! We couldn’t get anywhere close before he’d fly off, calling loudly to attract our attention. He seemed to think it would draw us away, but I think he was just scared. He constantly abandoned those little eggs when we were near. We tried to spend as little time there as possible, because we didn’t want those eggs to chill.

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Mother Killdeer had other ideas…….. she had nerves of steel. But we didn’t know the first one we saw was the father, we just thought that bird had erratic behavior. Either being extremely skiddish and flying away, or staying on the nest against all odds. Turns out, dad was the wuss and mom was the fearless one.

 

 

 

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Having to get plants and seeds in the ground, mom would stay on the nest, just a couple feet from where we worked. See her to the left and behind my husband here. This kept us from putting in crops, but we felt the birds were more important.

 

baby2

I wasn’t there to witness any of the hatching. My husband managed to catch the babies on camera as they hatched, right on schedule, May 7 and May 8, exactly 25 and 26 days after the eggs were laid, but exactly 24 days from when they actually began brooding them.

baby1

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Scenes from the nearby pond, as we left the gardenDSCN0215

The Osprey are back this year!

 

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6 comments

    • Every year, there are photographers spending time photographing the osprey. I have quite a telescopic lense on my camera, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten to see them even this close. You can’t get too close to their nest sites, otherwise they find other places to nest. Ya, it’s wonderful to see them every year!

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  1. We have a purple martin couple nesting in our carport, where we often sit to enjoy the outdoors. So I know what a great experience it is to be near birds… Gosh it looks so cold. It’s already been 90 here.

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    • Yes, it was cold, cold…and more cold this past winter. And then suddenly it turned summer, in the 80s and matching humidity. We have no Spring here! We try to encourage purple martins to nest out at the gardens, but those damn sparrows keep taking over the bird houses. It was great fun to see the birds nesting that close. I only held the egg to give an idea of the size of it. It was before they started brooding the eggs, as they don’t start until the last egg is laid.

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