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Garden Treasures

When hubby Nick and I were rototilling a patch in the garden recently, we nearly rolled over this precious cache …


A killdeer “nest” … smack dab in the middle of the garden path.

Why “killdeer”? It’s an onomatopoetic name (“the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it,” according to Merriam-Webster). The killdeer has a high, excited call that says kill-deer, kill-deer. And they say it so often, they’re also known as Chattering Plovers or Noisy Plovers.

Killdeer, Albert Head Lagoon, Metchosin, Near Victoria, British Columbia

Photo by Alan D. Wilson via Wikimedia Commons

The killdeer is an excitable bird altogether—it sprints erratically across the ground, stopping abruptly every few seconds to see if it’s missed any insects in its path. And the practice of laying its eggs in open areas in a nearly non-existent nest doesn’t help matters—when danger appears, Mama Killdeer acts like she has a broken wing, hopping away from the nest to draw attention to herself and away from the eggs. For animals that she doesn’t see as dangerous, like cows and horses, she uses a different tactic: she fluffs up her feathers, puffs her tail up over her head, and runs at the animals, trying to scare them off.

Hasn’t anyone told the poor little killdeer that it would be much easier to build a real nest out of harm’s way for its pretty little eggs?


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