Theatrical Parents

I stumbled across a family of Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) birds while walking at Lindo Lake in Lakeside, California.  As I approached, the first thing that I noticed were a handful of adult birds making a noisy fuss.  The Killdeer would loudly screech at me from a distance of 30–50 feet and fly away quite agitated at me and then, after a short time, fly back.  This continued for some time as I worked my along the shore.  And then their behavior changed abruptly as I neared a thicket of reeds.

One of the adults suddenly flew past me and landed about 20 feet or so from and then began to flutter on the ground for a few seconds.  The poor bird would part its wings and list back and forth while huddled close to the ground.  It would then get up, fly past me again, land, and then repeat the fluttering and twitching on the ground.  I definitely got the impression that this poor bird could be injured or at least a bit touched in the head.

Just then I noticed two small inconspicuous balls of fluffy down feathers walking across the mud flats no more than 15 feet from where I stood.  There were two juvenile Killdeer chicks standing in front of me.  Can we say cute!

I realized that the adult Killdeer was just putting on an elaborate act in order to divert my attention from the two baby birds. The display for a few minutes continued until I finally put some distance between myself and the babies. The frustrated parents could rest at last.

You can see more images at the Lindo Lake 2010 Gallery.