Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Upset Killdeer

I was sitting on the backporch letting my daughter's two small dogs have their time to "do their business" outside. I heard a long string of flutelike bird whistles - not in the normal bird calls I hear every morning. I was sitting under the large life oak tree so my field of vision was impaired. It was not until I got out on the front porch to enjoy breakfast and my daily morning time that I discovered which birds were making those calls. It was two killdeer - two very agitated killdeer.

Usually I see killdeer running along the ground, these were flying patterns over my yard and calling frantically. In the spring I had seen the killdeer parents with their young. I had enjoyed watching the parents fly away with their "broken" wing and then hearing them call to reunite their little family. But today there were only two and they seemed most disturbed. They flew and called and flew and called for 30 minutes to an hour.

I will probably never know exactly the story behind this unusual behavior, but I have my guesses. My dove hunting neighbors had been out shooting the doves. I suspect these killdeer or one of their flock was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either the noise and the falling buckshot scared them . . . or . . . perhaps one of the killdeer was too close to one of the doves that was the target. Maybe these two were calling for their lost chick or mate, or parent.

On principal I'm not opposed to hunting - if you use the meat and as many other parts of the kill for useful purposes . . . if you follow the rules and adhere to the bag limits. However, I've been feeding doves for several years now. This dove hunting season I'm hearing many more shots being fired from many sources around me. It is a little disconcerting to be sitting on my deck and all of a sudden have buckshot hitting my roof while I'm out in the open with the dogs. I heard shots the other night well after sunset when it was almost dark. I don't know the rules - how early and how late can you shoot, how many can you "bag" each day, etc?

I saw a juvenile white winged dove recently - the first one I'd seen that had the obvious juvenile markings. Will this chick survive the hunt? How many of the doves I feed regularly will survive for next year? Yes, I had more than ever at the feeders this summer. Yes, I don't want them to "over populate." But in so many ways, these are "my" birds - the killdeer that live on MY property, the doves that I feed.

Killdeer are too small to eat and I don't think you're supposed to be hunting them. But I suspect that these killdeer were in the
wrong place at the wrong time. I was distressed to hear them so upset.

1 comment:

Lazy Trainer said...

I am becoming concerned about hunting in this area simply because of the increased population.
It is displacing wildlife that needs places to go. These few places are very close to new human habitations.
I really do not like waking up to the sounds of shotguns right outside my bedroom window and the sound of pellets raining down. And I hate finding wounded or dead birds on my property!