Nesting at the Patch

The Arboretum’s Pumpkin Patch (on the knoll east of the Learning Center) offers more than just the creeping tendrils of award-winning pumpkin and melon varieties. It also grants a prime space (maybe not in our opinion!) for a Killdeer pair to nest their eggs.

Watch your step on the trail to the Pumpkin Patch – you may not be the only one taking advantage of it.

This Killdeer mother crouched protectively over her cache of four eggs last Friday, crying to her partner to fend off us unwanted visitors. Like all Killdeer, her nest was nothing more than a shallow depression, hardly visible to a walking visitor. Arboretum grounds found the eggs only at this bird’s insistence on protecting them.

The father, who showed shortly, came close enough for us to grasp, then flopped on his back in the grass not but feet away, employing the “broken wing act” to distract us from the nest as easy prey. 

The Killdeer eggs, speckled and camoflauged, blended in with the edge of the woodchipped path to the Patch, as is usual for any ground-nesting bird. 

This mother’s cries soon caught the attention of her partner, who valiantly tried to lead us from the nest

Despite the mother’s pleas and father’s mock distress, this nest was moved to a safer location later in the day.  The baby Killdeer, once hatched, will immediately be able to move about their surroundings – hopefully to scout a better nesting ground!

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