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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

Killdeer nest between rock and a hard place

Killdeer eggs in nest in a gravel driveway. (Mike Prager / The Spokesman-Review)
Killdeer eggs in nest in a gravel driveway. (Mike Prager / The Spokesman-Review)

BIRDWATCHING -- The delightful killdeer we see making short sprints ahead of us as as walk along streams, fields and open farm and ranch country are programmed to build their nest in the uncommon comfort of gravel.

So it's no surprise that graveled driveways or parking lots seem like prime locations for them to hatch a brood. They are technically shorebirds, but are not totally linked to water.

The photo above was snapped Tuesday by S-R reporter Mike Prager after he nearly stepped on the eggs while interviewing a homeowner near Davis Creek and the Pend Oreille River.  The photo shows how well a batch of killdeer eggs blends in with the granite gravel used in the driveway.

The giveaway that a family's in the making is the noisy broken-wing act the adult performs when an intruder comes near the nest. The bird gets its name from one of its calls:  kill-deeah, kill-deeah.   Sometimes it just blurts a rising dee-dee-dee.

Unlike robins, which hatch helpless,  killdeer chicks are almost instantly ready to go. They hatch with their eyes open, and as soon as their downy feathers dry, they start scurrying about, following their parents toward cover where they quickly begin searching the ground for something to eat.

A killdeer chick has one black line across its throat and chest.  An adult has two.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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