Last Sunday I went out for my first kayak run of the season. We stopped at a little beach to have snacks and our friends boy noticed his mom was almost sitting in a killdeer bird nest. We marveled at the beautiful speckled eggs so well hidden within the landscape. I was saddened to realize that I did not have my camera and suspected it would be gone by the time I was able to get back on the river.
Surprise! A few of us went out for a 12 mile paddle yesterday and we were going to pass right by the beach again. I made sure to bring my camera and kept my eye out for the beach. We I spotted the eddy, three of us pulled in to find the tiny nest. My husband, ever the human GPS honed right in on it and sure enough the mom and eggs were still there. This time, we were taken with the fact that she must be quite the mom, as killdeer build their nests in the ground, preferring sand and even parking lot gravel. They are tolerant of humans-clearly they have to be if they choose parking lots to hatch their babies! Any predator-and there are many in our environment-could have eaten those eggs at any time. It takes about 28 days for incubation and for the eggs to hatch.
The adult birds protective instincts are simply amazing. When reading about the killdeer birds I discovered that both the male and female take turns sitting on the nest. An adult killdeer will feign a broken wing to distract a human from its nest. Your instinct will be to try and catch it in an effort to help it. The bird will hop around further and further away from the nest hoping that in doing so, you will be distracted by its plight and you will not find the eggs.
Newly hatched babies are described as being "born with their running shoes on," the scientific term is precocial-from the same Latin word source as precocious! They cannot yet fly, but will scurry around after their parents in search of food.
Toward the end of the day, I spotted a yearling dear and her tiny spotted doe in a clearing. I did not see the doe at first, she blended right into her environment. They stood far away on the bank quiet and curious.
The river brings me so much clarity. The metaphors and symbolic meaning speak to me on a much deeper level. Yesterday’s excursion was clearly about nurturing, protection and slowing down enough to be witness to what is just beyond our view. Those were the exact messages I needed to hear yesterday.