Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kilroy the Killdeer is Here

"Kilroy the Killdeer was here"! Yes, he truly was, and of yesterday! (Where are the robins, I wonder!?)

I certainly did not take this nice close-up photo of a killdeer; it comes courtesy of the Wikipedia article about killdeer. Yes, as I trudged down our sloppy farm drive yesterday, this year's first sight and sound of killdeers caught my attention. They looked exactly like this fellow in the photo above.......standing on their little stick legs in the snowmelt pond in our field next to the driveway. Amazingly, icy cold water must not faze killdeers in the least, for the ones I saw seemed happy as larks to be wading in it. (I hope they won't mind being compared to larks........although not birds-of-a-feather, they seem to be friends, although the meadowlarks won't arrive for a while yet.)

Killdeers live an interesting life. They construct their nests right on the ground, making them out of little stones. In fact, killdeers seem to spend most of their time on the never see them sitting in trees or on fenceposts. If danger threatens their nest or their young, the adult killdeer will limp off, feigning a broken wing, to draw the predator's attention away from the nest or little birdlings. Isn't it amazing and intriguing how different types of birds and animals are blessed with specialized instincts!

By the way, young killdeer birdlings are the cutest darn things......last summer I saw a group of maybe ten little ones running along the road behind an adult (she must have been their daycare provider). The little ones look exactly like the mature killdeers, only in miniature, of course. Fun to see!! And killdeers can scurry very fast on their skinny stick legs......they almost look like little roadrunners!

The killdeers' call is distinctive, too, and is a common sound in the fields around our farm. Spring and summer wouldn't be the same without the killdeer's high-pitched whistle in the background of days and evenings. I have trouble describing bird calls, but killdeers don't seem to sing, or trill, or warble.......they have a whistly screech. Its not an unpleasant sound, though not exactly beautiful either.......but definitely recognizable!

I was going to write next that I have no idea where the odd name "killdeer" came from, but I quickly grabbed the "K" Worldbook and found the answer. Their name is associated with the shrill sound they sounds like "kill-deer", the encyclopedia said. Well, I'll have to take more notice of that now and see if its true. Oh, and guess what.......the explanation of their name is also given in the Wikipedia entry. Duh, Jeannelle.

We're in the Ides of March. I read last night that on the night before his assassination, Julius Caesar dreamed he sailed to the heavens and took the hand of Zeus! Supposedly, there was also a bird portent seen on the day preceding his death. It was a pagan habit, I guess, to take notice of such things in nature........although if portents occur, they are neutral, aren't they? Maybe its pagan simply to take notice of things such as dreams and birds. Do you know that originally the Latin word paganus referred to people who lived out in the country, as opposed to cities, where Christianity was concentrated. Fascinating!

Have a great day!


Mary Connealy said...

Another cold day in Nebraska, bits of snow but nothing bad. I've been helping a new neighbor move.
Lots of work and I feel like I'm failing them because I've sneaked away home to rest my aching back for a while.

Jeannelle said...

Hi, Mary!

You're getting a new neighbor....that's nice! And its thoughtful of you to help them with the moving. You're never failing anyone by taking good care of yourself!!

Thanks for dropping by! We've had a sunny day, but cold. Still no robins in sight.