About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Killdeer nest abandoned

I have a question about a Killdeer nest in the middle of my driveway, please.  The nest with four eggs has been in my driveway for approximately one week.  Once I discovered the nest, I placed markers around it to prevent it from being accidentally run over while we were coming and going.  Everything was amazing until yesterday and I am wondering if the nest has been abandoned.  Two days in a row, we had heavy rainstorms.  On the first day, one of the adult Killdeer stayed on the nest.  The second day, one of the adult Killdeer stayed on the nest until the nest was submerged in water.  Once the nest was filled with rainwater, I noticed the adult Killdeer moved away from the nest.  After the rain stopped, I continued to look out for the adult Killdeer to see if they would return.  They did come back but did not go to the nest.  As for today, I have not seen or heard the adult Killdeer at all.  Have they abandoned the nest?  Did the rainwater damage the eggs?  Is there anything I can do at this point?  If the nest has been abandoned, what shall I do with the eggs? 
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Killdeer are devoted to sitting on their eggs even in the most terrible weather. But if the eggs were under water for more than a few minutes, they are no longer viable. They’ll probably abandon the nest and start another one later. I would wait a few more days. If a predator doesn’t take the eggs away, you can dispose of them yourself.

Thank you so much for getting back with me so quickly!  Oh, I feel terrible about the nest!  I kept thinking that I should have gone out there and put up an umbrella or something to protect the Killdeer and the nest but I was afraid I would have scared her away from the nest.  I am pretty sure that I have heard one of the Killdeer today, maybe in my backyard.  They were so much fun to watch and a great nature lesson for my children!!  I do hope they will come back!  Again, I really appreciate your time!  Have a wonderful week!!

Mother Killdeer performing broken wing act
Your welcome! Killdeer don’t visit feeders, but if you have a large yard with cultivated lawns or grazed fields then you could find Killdeer foraging on your property. Killdeer get their name from the shrill, wailing kill-deer call they give so often.

Their nests are simple scrapes often placed on slight rises in their open rocky habitats. They may make several scrapes not far away from each other before deciding on the perfect spot. The duplication may also help to confuse predators.

Killdeer lay their eggs on the empty scrapes and add other materials to the nest later. In one nest, people found more than 1,500 pebbles were added around the eggs. They are also famous for pretending to have a broken wing to lead predators away from a nest. To guard their nest against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer display their tail over their head, and run at the intruder to attempt to make it change its path.

After about a month of incubation, baby Killdeer, like baby ducks, geese, and poultry hatch out covered with thick down, open their eyes quickly, and are perfectly capable of walking. Within minutes, they imprint on their parents and follow them tenaciously. Both parents show them food items, and will stay together to train them for several weeks.

It is a great nature lesson for children. I hope they have better luck with their next nest.

Source: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/lifehistory 

Related Articles:
- What bird makes a ground nest in Michigan? http://goo.gl/2yc02
- What Do I Feed Baby Killdeer? http://goo.gl/fXiYD
- Nesting Questions http://goo.gl/pNt7V

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