Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just When I Thought Compassionate Humans Were An Endangered Species…

We attended a festival last weekend at which we noticed an odd sight. Between the tents of the vendors and the picnic tables near the food purveyors was a ring of opened folding chairs, roped together and lying on their sides. My curiosity got the best of me and I stepped up to the ring for a closer look.

In the center of the chairs was a Killdeer. At first I thought she was injured, but then I saw her clutch of speckled eggs, camouflaged nicely amongst the surrounding stones. It seemed a risky place to raise a family—in an open area of a frequently used park—but apparently this is typical Killdeer strategy.

We watched the bird from afar for a while—saw her perform her “Predator Distraction Dance” when she felt threatened and saw her mate swoop in to deliver food. We also heard numerous parents warn their children to keep their distance and not traumatize the bird, and we overheard a festival exhibitor explain how she and a few other exhibitors had first noticed the bird that morning and decided to protect the tiny family from the crowds by creating the wall of chairs.

This contrasted sharply with the last Killdeer-human interactions I’d witnessed at the Rolex Event last month: As a Killdeer was trying to herd her large brood across a triangular patch of grass with people milling about on all sides, one person allowed her dog to chase the chicks. They scattered in all directions, sending Mother Killdeer into a frenzy.

I know, I know. It’s fun for the canine. But not so much for the Killdeer.

So last weekend became memorable not for the festival, but for seeing SO MANY humans doing the right thing for one little bird and her potential family. They made my day.

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