About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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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

4 comments:

Maya Samardzija said...

I had a Killdeer nest with 3 eggs in my backyard (So. Cal.) and mom & dad were sitting on them diligently for a few days. However, one day everything disappeared, all the eggs and parents. What could have happened? There are no cats in our neighborhood (thank God!), and no one could have accessed our backyard. Could killdeers move their eggs to another location? The only other option is snake, or maybe crows or owl, no other predators could get into our backyard. There are no broken egg shelves, just all empty. I'm devastated.

Molly's mom said...

We came home from vacation to find a killdeer nest with her 4 eggs. We know that was the first day she was sitting on them since our lawn guy had been here 5 days before and no nest. Anyway, she is alone (or he). We have been watching for the past week and we've had killdeer before and watch them do the switch. This killdeer seems to be alone. We put up a camera and she does leave the nest for a few minutes but comes back. We don't hear another killdeer and before they'd always be talking back and forth and one would wait for the other before they flew away. Can one adult stay long enough on the eggs to hatch them all alone? Poor thing, she's very tolerant of us and we give her a good deal of space when we walk by....she's right where we park the car so have had to move the car.... I know, but we just love those birds. By the way, we are in WA state so still getting down in the 40's at night and only 60's during the day....still raining ALOT! Thank you, C Hill

Felicity said...

Hello, I need some advice. A couple weeks ago we found a killdeer nest on our street. There were four eggs and the mother was doing her job scaring me away. We left them alone but would just check every so often to see how they were. A few days ago we noticed that one egg was missing and the mother wasn't there. Every since then I've been checking a few times a day to see if they hatched or if the mother is there. It appears that she abandoned the nest. I have a small farm with chickens and sheep and I'm familiar with raising baby chicks, should I try to save the eggs (if they are still viable)? It's bothering me knowing that they might still have a chance to survive.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

It sounds like the nest was attacked. The mom probably moved on to begin again. I don't think there is anything you can do now.

You are best off asking a wildlife rehabilitator. It's against the law to raise wildlife without a license. And it's almost impossible to hand raise baby killdeer, even for experts.

Perhaps the abandoned eggs will provide sustenance for some baby crows or other wildlife in the area.