1 year ago

Killdeer parents share the job of keeping their newborns warm

These killdeer have been incubating their eggs for 3-4 weeks and they have been vigorously defending the nest against intruders. Their habit of feigning a wing injury to lure predators away from their eggs is awe inspiring and fascinating to watch. After weeks of commendable effort, they have just been rewarded with success. Their eggs hatched several hours before this video captured the newborn's first look at the world.

The egg shells have barely been cleared away and the babies have dried off. They are adorably fluffy with impossibly long legs and they are alert and ready to eat within an hour of hatching. But they still need to be kept warm. The parents share the responsibility of heating and protecting the babies for several hours. The parent who is not on the nest will eat insects and even bring a few to the babies. They learn instinctively peck at anything that moves and they will learn how to feed themselves before the day is done. If anything threatening approaches the nest, both parents will engage in a dramatic display, pretending that they are an easy meal, all in the hope of drawing the danger away from their young.

One of the babies can be seen here as he ventures a few inches from the father's protective care. He is like a small pompom on legs and he walks with an adorable clumsiness as he gets used to the long grass beneath his feet. Suddenly, the father sounds the shrill alarm chirp that indicates danger and the baby drops to the ground, tucks himself into the grass, and waits motionless for the moment to pass. With a reassuring sound from the parents, he is on his feet again and he is eager to get back under dad's wing.

The four chicks left the nest by mid afternoon on their first day, taking cover under long grass while they fed and learned from their parents. Instinctively, they seem to understand that the world is a dangerous place and they are cautious and wary, always staying close to cover. They must feed and grow quickly if they are to survive. Approximately half of killdeer eggs will live through the egg stage and the first few days of life. These killdeer have been lucky thus far.

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