Hello Stalkers. Enjoying your spring? I hope so, and we hope you are taking advantage by stepping out of your house and exploring the great outdoors for yourself some. What signs of spring have you noticed around your house and neighborhood? New buds popping out of trees, greener grass in the neighbors lawn, or perhaps some birds are cozying up preparing for nesting season? Drop by our Facebook page and let us know. We want to hear about it! With Spring in the air and Easter right around the corner, many view this time as a time for new beginnings and hope. Creatures in nature are no different. After all, this is the time when new members are added to the population. Nature is beautiful and amazing to watch but sometimes it gets easy to forget that nature is just as unforgiving as it is beautiful.
This newsletter is going to be a bit different. As a stalker of Mike Blair, I know that he gets much of his footage and photos by going out in search of wildlife daily. When he finds something interesting, he sticks with it and follows the story. Here are two stories that I have pieced together of a pair of Killdeer and a pair of Scissortail that he “stalked,” in his ventures. These stories show just how unforgiving nature can be but at the same time it truly is amazing.
This first Scissortail couple started their nest in early summer. With their first clutch the incubation period was 19 days, which Blair comments is longer than what books say. This clutch has hatched five chicks. Blair watches as the male Scissortail brings back an insect for a meal for the young birds. He seems to have trouble getting the bug turned right to shear into smaller pieces for the smaller mouths. The female Scissortail notices and calls for the bug. They played tug-of-war for about ten seconds but the insect is soon divided into pieces suitable for their young. On day number four for the chicks, Blair returns to the nest to find all five chicks gone and a somber, quiet island. Blair assumes that a raccoon found itself an easy snack. Young birds are often targets of predators. However, Blair spots the female working on nest number two about 80 yards away from the original.
Blair had noticed a slight platform that resembled the beginning of a nest about a week before tragedy struck the first nest. It hadn’t been added to until this point. Both parents contribute to the work of nest two but the female Scissortail does most of the work required. Blair was able to catch an unusual fact on his film that he hadn’t heard of before. He witnessed the female pirate the first nest for materials to construct the second nest. A mere five days after losing their first clutch, the couple has completed the second nest and one egg is already inhabiting the space. When, Blair checks the nest two days later, there are three eggs. Five eggs, is eventually the total for this nest as well. Although, it is common for these birds to lay fewer eggs in later clutches.
Unfortunately, this couple of Scissortail have placed their nest in a central area, prime for fireworks and it’s July 4th. The nest receives major activity with the firework show set up. That evening Blair’s mind drifts to the poor birds who must either endure the noise and disruption that comes at nightfall or abandon their second nest. Checking on the sight the next day, Blair originally thinks it is as he feared and that the nest is abandoned. It appears to be deserted at first. However, within a couple minutes he hears their chatter and the pair return to their nest. This nest’s incubation period is fourteen days and two of the five eggs hatch. In the end three of the five eggs hatch successfully. Blair visits the site a few times to gain interesting footage and to hopefully catch the chicks when they fledge. His efforts are paid off when he is able to catch two of the three during their first flights. After it’s all said and done, three of the five eggs have hatched and all three chicks have successfully fledged; even after one had a minor scare as a south wind caught it and carried him several more yards over the lake than in should have been.
This second is a pair of Killdeer have a rather more tragic story. Blair captured this saddening image at the end of nest number one. A mother Killdeer has her living chick tucked under her wing, and a trapped hatchling lays in front of her. Two days before they hatch, one of the parents accidentally ruptures an egg against the gravel nest. The yolk coagulates at the ruptured point, much like a scab. Unfortunately, during this process the young birds foot gets balled up in it, binding it’s foot to the shell. The chick struggles for hours, after hatching, it’s foot glued to the eggs inside surface. The mother attempts to help free her young, to no avail. By sundown, the parents and chick have left the nest. Blair said that this nest endured many challenges, including snowstorms, flood and a hail storm.
There are two more attempts at a nest for this couple, that Blair doesn’t expound on and then he notices attempt number three. It is placed on a small burn pile out on a lake pier. Blair has hope for this nest, as it is a little more out of the way of busy activity.
One egg is deposited into this nest. Sadly, less than twenty-four hours later, the nest is destroyed and the egg is gone. Some camp stool tracks has Blair suspecting that an aware angler, made this nest area is spot for night fishing. Blair doesn’t mention whether this particular couple of Killdeer make yet another attempt at a nest.
I find these stories sad, but it’s just nature. It’s beautiful and full of hope, like a nest full of eggs or chicks, but something as simple as a rain or raiding prowler can end it all. It’s encouraging the way the animals move on and try again. “It’s just the way in nature,” as Blair said, in one of his writings. Stop below and leave a comment. Let us know what you think of these stories. Or think about how much time Blair spent to be able to know so much about these two different couples and the strife they endured. There are a few videos on these stories available, the links are below. Also, don’t forget to visit our Facebook page and tell us what signs of Spring you are experiencing near you!