Friday, June 10, 2016

Killdeer Memories

The Killdeer can often be heard calling out it's name
 as it flies across the countryside.
It was May of 1962 when my family moved from the South side of Batavia to a newly constructed home on North Spruce St. in the Northeast corner of the city. Prior to moving there I had experienced feelings of trepidation, the angst of leaving old friends behind. However, any misgivings I might have had dissipated while we were still unloading our belongings.

A young lad the same age as me; his name was Pete Tierney, my  neighbor as it turned out to be, stopped to say hello. What’s more, just beyond our new home was a large stubble field and beyond that a swamp, both of which were bordered by a vast woodlot. Pete and I became fast friends from the start, exploring the woods, swamp, and fields as any curious and nature-loving twelve-year old boys would. 
It’s been fifty four years since my first spring on Batavia’s Northside, to a time when my attention was drawn to a number of strange-looking birds with a shrill call. Pete told me they were Killdeer, and together we discovered how they would feign a broken wing if you happen to get too close to their nest and/or young. One or both parents would run quickly in the opposite direction of the nest while holding one wing askew, as if to say, “come get me, I’m easier pickings.”     
These eggs are easy to miss, a natural defense mechanism.
Here lies one of the more remarkable examples of camouflage in nature. The female Killdeer deposits her eggs in nothing more than a slight depression out in the open, usually in a gravel and/or stubble field. Though easy to spot in this photo, chances are, if you were within a mere five feet you would never know it was there.  

These photos were taken last week while hiking one of the trails at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. On this day, while watching the Killdeers run along the ground and then hearing their shrill, airborne cry, they brought back recollections of Pete Tierney and our days of nature discovery. In those years the shrill cry of the Killdeer was heard on a daily basis from May thru August.  But that’s no longer the case.

The stubble field, the swamp and the wood lots are gone now, long since replaced by apartment complexes, condominiums and housing developments. Gone too is the cry of the Killdeer. Still, I’m grateful for those early years and sun-filled days of discovery and a companion like Pete to share it with. I’m thankful too, that the Lord saw fit to allow us to enjoy it long before the developers laid their eyes on it.

Psalm 84:3 - Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.

Until Next Time,
Jim & Claudia

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