ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Wounded bird draws much attention

As the years go by, our farm seems to become more and more a wildlife sanctuary. It all started innocently enough with my wanting a place to deer hunt that would cash flow enough to break even. With changes in habitat, each year the wildlife gets...

As the years go by, our farm seems to become more and more a wildlife sanctuary.

It all started innocently enough with my wanting a place to deer hunt that would cash flow enough to break even.

With changes in habitat, each year the wildlife gets more diverse and numerous. My wife and I enjoy the diversity and watching the animals almost as much as the original intent of just hunting deer. We have attracted birds of all sizes and types from the tufted titmouse that nests on the front porch and hummingbirds that feed there to the trumpeter swans in the lake and turkeys in the timber. Bluebirds are nesting in the wood duck house and wood ducks are nesting in the old cottonwood on the lake. I have seen several birds I do not even recognize.

As well as watching, my wife and I both enjoy teaching the grandsons about the birds and animals. Yesterday, my wife, grandson Zane and I pulled up to the dock for a quick fishing trip just before sunset. A killdeer walked across the lawn, dragging one wing. Killdeers are pretty little shore birds, famous for acting wounded in order to protect their nests. Zane was concerned the bird had been injured.

When we got out of the truck, the bird flopped over on her side and appeared to be in the process of dying. As we started walking toward her she got considerably better and started walking off, still dragging a wing. Drawing us a few feet farther, she was miraculously was healed and flew off. We returned to the truck to get our gear and she flew back. Landing near us, she was immediately back into the throes of death.

ADVERTISEMENT

Zane was still convinced there was something seriously wrong with this bird. We tried to explain to him, such a small bird could not fight to protect her nest, which was on the ground somewhere nearby. She pretended to be hurt so anything that may injure her babies or eat her eggs would instead try to get her. The predator, such as a raccoon or coyote, would think it would be easy to catch and eat a bird with a broken wing as she led them away from the nest. When they were far enough away, she flies away, leaving a confused predator without a meal.

Zane and his Nanna went to the dock while I got the life jackets out of the cabin. Watching the ground closely coming down the hill, I saw a slight depression in the lawn with three brown and gray speckled eggs in it. The track in the grass made from the truck when we came in was inches from the killdeer nest. No wonder she was getting so upset. It is not easy to draw the attention of a truck away from a nest. I got a piece of reinforcing rod, pounded it into the ground a few inches from the nest and attached a florescent orange flag to the top. As we headed out in the boat, the little mother bird went back to her nest and sat on her eggs.

From the experience, Zane learned one more trick of nature birds use to protect their young. It was fascinating to watch the little killdeer, who perceived us as danger, attempt to draw the threat a safe distance away. While she incubated her eggs and raised her babies, the nest would be safe from trucks and people carelessly walking across the yard. She can handle the other predators in the area with her convincing act of being wounded.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

What To Read Next
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
Volunteers lead lessons on infusing fibers with plant dyes and journaling scientific observations for youth in Crow Wing and Olmsted counties.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.