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.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Killdeer nest protection

I have a (killdeer) nest, 4 eggs, open to weather.  We get hail in a lot of these storms.  Can I put a cover over the nest with an access hole for the Mom and Dad to get to the nest?  Will they abandon the nest if I TRY to protect it?  I talk to them all the time when I avoid the nest when mowing. Please respond quickly...we expect storms tonight with hail! - Alan  

Unfortunately, as you know, killdeer have the habit of building their nests in the open, rocky areas because it gives them a good view of any approaching predators.

I wouldn’t recommend trying to move the nest. This could injure the eggs or spook the nervous parents enough to abandon the nest. However, I don't think they would be bothered if you placed a chair or something over the nest. I had one customer that moved her truck after they built a nest under and they continued to nest there.

Try not to disturb the area very much. After egg-laying begins, Killdeer often add rocks, bits of shell, sticks, and trash to the nest area. Once camouflaged, the Killdeer find the nest because they have a map in their head of where they placed every rock, twig, and shell.

If the worst happens and this nest is destroyed, they will build again and learn from the experience. Birds learn how to nest through trial and error. Sarah

If I cover the nest for 12 hours or so providing access thru a hole, will they abandon the eggs.  A hail storm is coming and I don't want the eggs or parents hit by hail! Alan

I wouldn't be that efficient in covering the nest. Birds are familiar with Mother Nature. The worst would be if the eggs were submerged in water. Otherwise the elements, (hail, rain, wind) shouldn't bother them much especially if she is already sitting on the eggs. If she hasn't finished with her clutch, a simple chair that can't be blown away is enough shelter over the eggs. Sarah
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I placed 4 jack stands, covered with cardboard and a folding chair, secured with bungee cords. She walked around it a couple of times then went in a sat on the eggs. Hopefully she will understand I am trying to help save her eggs.  I will let you know how they are after tonight's storms. Thanks for your help! Alan

It's nice to know there are good people out there. I hope all goes well! Sarah

We have made it!  One baby so far and three good eggs.  I checked late yesterday and found 4 eggs. Today 1 baby and 3 to go.  Once they start to hatch how long to get all 4?  I think I read 2 to 3 days and they will be walking? Alan

Killdeer can raise two broods in a season. The eggs, incubated by both the male and the female, hatch in 24 to 26 days. Incubation at night is mostly by the male. The female incubates during the day.

Incubation begins after the clutch is complete. The eggs usually hatch at the same time. They are precocial birds which means they are well developed straight from the egg and are quickly able to stand and walk on their own. The parents lead the young to water and guard them for another 25 days until they are able to fly. I glad there was a
happy ending! Sarah

At about 6:30 we got back from our bike ride. I immediately went to check on "my" babies.  Number two had hatched and was still in the nest.  The first to hatch was resting on the outside of the nest in the nice 79 degree sun.  After I took the pictures the Dad come over and got the first born up and they promptly "ran" away from the human with the camera.  They were so cute! 

Attached are the latest photos.  Two babies born and two to go.

Just got to witness the birth of baby 3.  The shell was cracked and the head was just coming out.  Baby 3 would struggle and shake and the shell cracked a little more.  Of course Mom was pretty upset I was coddling this event.  Finally Baby 3 made his appearance into the world. Hopefully they will all be a big family of 4 healthy babies tomorrow!

Wow...mother nature at her finest!
Alan

Related Articles:
- Killdeer nest abandoned http://goo.gl/qNkf3w
- 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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