Friday, July 22, 2011

Coyote Melon and Jimson Weed Blossoms

Georgia O'Keefe painted jimsonweed (aka Datura) often, perhaps because of the graceful form and purity of its white blossom.

The coyote melon is a stinky plant (aka Cucubita foetidissima) but has a lovely flower, much like its squash cousins.

Empty killdeer nest

A shallow depression shows the location of the former nest. Not a speck of shell to be seen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Killdeer Eggs Now All Hatched

There were 4 eggs in the clutch and as of today (July 16, 2011) there are none. The first and send hatched July 11-12, the third on July 14, and the fourth on July 16. Since the parents make a point of carrying off all the shell fragments, it is now really difficult to see the nest site.

Here is one of the parents as of July 12, sheltering the two remaining eggs and the first two chicks.

Peter Cottontail Makes Himself at Home

Do you see the bobcat?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Hide in plain sight" seems to be the rule when killdeer choose a nest site. Not for them are hidden places under bushes or rocks or up in tree branches or cavities. They prefer open spaces such as this nearly barren stretch of ground near the plant nursery, not far from the road. The red arrow points to the nest which even at a short distance is easy to pass by.

But, if the parent is there, it will do its level best to lead you away by going into its "broken wing" routine: tottering (but perhaps complaining in a loud voice), dragging a wing, flopping and toppling over but somehow still leading its unwelcome visitor away.
[Photos by Andy Honig]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Killdeer Eggs Begin to Hatch

The first killdeer egg hatched sometime between yesterday evening and this morning (July 12). The parents were nowhere in sight. Killdeer remove the shell fragments after a hatching and this had already occurred. You can see the chick's fuzzy body, one leg, head, one eye and beak in this picture. It won't be long before it is up and running around.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Air-Conditioning Killdeer-Style

This killdeer has just flown over to a nearby pond, taken a dip to wet its feathers, and returned to hover over its clutch of 4 eggs. The air temperature was 100 degrees on this particular afternoon.