Saturday, May 17, 2008

Killdeer

The first cows leaving the cattle chute after vaccinations entered the dirt corral, provoking a frantic cheeping call from the center of the corral. A killdeer had made her nest in the middle of the corral, against a semi-circle of rocks; and she was doing her best to run off the huge animals before they stepped on her four spotted eggs.Although killdeer are well known for their broken-wing act to lure predators away from the nest, she was using a different tactic, fluffing herself up, showing her reddish tail feathers, and running at the cows to attempt to make them change their path. Her mate fretted around the edge of the corral, helpless. The cows hardly noticed the poor bird, and they kept streaming into the corral. We placed some extra rocks around the nest to protect it, which made the cows curious and they stopped to smell it; they avoided stepping on the unstable rocks - until one rambunctious cow didn't even notice it and stepped in the middle of the nest. I guess it is another example of evolution at work: killdeer that choose a working corral for their nest site won't succeed as well as those that choose less busy areas.

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