Friday, April 11, 2014

Eight-legged Bird

While the casual observer might think it a bit early in the year for baby birds to be about, these precocial killdeer chicks beg to differ. Their remarkable invisibility cloaks would work as well on a mound of empty oyster shells in the sound, among the low dunes of a wind-swept barrier island or in the tall grasses of the mid-western plains, but tonight both the texture and color of their downy plumage take on the tone of stone as this flightless trio hunkers motionless in the middle of a gravel parking lot. 

Nearby, a clever parent, quite handsomely clad, calls loudly and mimics a nesting adult to draw attention away from the young ones. 

After drawing the curious photographer in close, sly abandons its nesting ruse in favor of a slow, limping walk directly away from the gravel lot.

A quick glance back at the chicks reveals a dispersal underway; three chicks move briefly in three different directions, then quietly and swiftly re-orient themselves in the general direction of the other calling parent.

To look away is to lose sight of the chicks for a second while the eyes struggle to pry the little balls of feathers loose from the tableau of crushed stone...

Locked in on their destination now, their pace increases, and the cover-up begins in earnest.

With one chick sheltered in place and another nearly there, the parent calls frantically for the lone straggler to join them; the watcher casts a fruitless glance all about the field of stone, 

then returns to alight on a strikingly patterned eight-legged shorebird standing alone in the middle of a warm gravel parking lot early of an April evening in Tramway. 
Will wonders never cease?!

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