[Tweeters] FOY Killdeer nest - LHG Bellevue

Pterodroma at aol.com Pterodroma at aol.com
Sat Mar 23 04:20:53 PDT 2013


It may be officially Spring, but yesterday morning's snowfall and overnight
subfreezing temps may beg to differ. Still, and undeterred, it's Spring
and nesting time for Killdeer and I found an early season nest containing 4
eggs yesterday afternoon (Fr 3/22) in the Lake Hills Greenbelt (LHG),
Larsen Lake section, Bellevue. The nest site was but a simple slight
depression amongst the wood chip ground cover in a restoration area renovated last
summer just north of the old library parking lot (now "Teen Center" boy's &
girls club).

I suspected a nest there very nearby on Tu 3/19 when a Killdeer scuttled
off from under foot and commenced to feign the 'broken wing' act.
Yesterday, I just slow and carefully approached that area again to see if I could
find her before she left the suspected nest. On the first scan and within
literally 3 seconds, she was easily spotted squat on the ground 20 feet away,
then got up and wandered a few feet away at which time I could easily see
the 4 eggs. Thankfully, she and the nest appear to be in a reasonably safe
spot, well off the beaten track for people and dogs, and for added safety,
the nest site is tucked up against a small newly planted conifer, thus
pretty safe from even being accidentally stepped on. I flagged the spot so I
can monitor the site from the parking lot and not have to walk out there
again and avoid rendering any further disturbance.

Assuming a Killdeer nest with eggs was already in progress March 19
(confirmed March 22), that kind of puts it at the far left early end of the
Killdeer nesting season in King Co (Hunn, 2012, p136). I highly suspect a
second, and perhaps a third nesting bird at a couple other spots in the
greenbelt but will leave those be since access at best is a bit mucky. Killdeer
incubation is typically 24-28 days, but being highly precocious like most
shorebirds, once the fluffy new chicks hatch, they'll be off and away in an
instant.

The annual wintering gathering began assembling in the traditional NE
corner field at 156th Ave SE and SE 16th St on 20 Oct (1 bird), then gradually
grew to a high count of 19 on 06 Dec. Through the long dark winter,
Dec-Jan, the flock was fairly stable ranging from 12-17 birds, gradually
diminishing into Feb. What can perhaps best be described as lek-like courtship
activity was observed in that field on 04 Mar, a particularly bright sunny but
frosty cold morning when 5-6 birds were assembled there and worked up into
quite a frenzy of dancing, hopping up & down and back & forth over one
another, running about, and unusually quite vocal, a much different sort of
behavior from the otherwise just standing around rather statuesque through
all the long dark wet winter out there looking just plain bored; ...waiting
it out as it were, "oh god, when will it end?" I was away 05-12 March so
missed out on what might have happened during that period. By 13 March,
those 5-6 Killdeer had staked out their real estate at the three sites of now
confirmed or suspect nesting. Come mid April, there should be some new tiny
little balls of downy fluff running around for awhile in the Lake Hills
Greenbelt.

Richard Rowlett
Bellevue (Eastgate), WA


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