Thursday, March 8, 2012

Broken Wing

One day I was driving down a dirt road at the plant in southeast Florida.   Well, actually the road was more like a crushed coral rock and dirt road.   And I saw this wounded bird.   It's wing was obviously broken as it fluttered around on the road holding its wing fanned out in an abnormal position.   I got out of my van to see if I could help it but it was too frightened.   Every time I tried to approach it, the poor bird would flutter a little further down the road with its broken wing.   I decided to go to the biology department where perhaps one of the biologists might be able to help this poor little wounded bird with the broken wing.    After arriving at the biology office I excitedly told the biologists about the wounded bird with the broken wing.   The biologists told me that the wing wasn't broken.   That this was a type of bird that nests on the ground and they use the broken wing tactic to draw predators away from their chicks by pretending to be hurt.   They said that there were lots of them nesting in the area at that particular time of year and had seen them.   They told me to watch for the chicks and the eggs and not to run over them accidentally.    They said that the eggs looked like rocks and would be difficult to spot but to try.   I returned to the area and sure enough there was a small chick.
So tiny and easily missed.   It wouldn't move.
Can anyone identify this bird for me?   I kept an eye out for the chicks in the road and gave them a wide berth as I drove far to the side of them.   I noticed all of the cars drove around them and placing as much distance as possible.   Amazingly I did not see one injured bird chick or eggs the whole time.    An awful lot of very compassionate people worked at the plant.   Here is an adult bird that I spotted sitting on its nest.
Yeah, right on top of those hard lumpy rocks.   I would think that a nice soft nest lined with down feathers high in a shady tree where it can catch a nice cool breeze would seem a lot better.   She flew away as I approached to take a picture.   I snapped a picture of the eggs.   Can you spot them?
Here is a blow-up to help you spot them.  Her eggs are speckled to make them look like rocks.   Great camouflage.   And very pretty eggs also.
I got my pictures and left immediately.    I was concerned about the eggs overheating without the mother's feathers shading them.    But that broken wing trick by the bird was very convincing.   It fooled me.   What a great adaptation.   Nature is just so amazing.   I really would like to know what kind of bird this is.   The biologists were right, they were all over the place and then after a couple of months they seemed to fly away elsewhere.   At least I didn't see them on the ground anymore.   At least not until the following year.   Have a great day.   Lew

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