Killdeer are ground nesters and their young are precocial – born with a layer of down and able to walk, run and find their own food a few hours after hatching. Even so, the parents brood (cover them with their body, providing heat) their young if it’s cool and provide shade for them if it’s hot the first few days after they hatch.
Killdeer parents are very protective of their young. Their distraction display — leading predators away from their chicks by feigning injury — is familiar to anyone who has closely approached them. They also provide shelter for their chicks if they perceive a threat. If you look closely at the main photograph, you will see four tiny legs extending to the ground from the adult Killdeer’s breast. These legs, and the black tail feathers poking out of the adult’s white feathers, belong to two chicks who felt the need for protection.
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