Doctor Killdeer

I heard a killdeer the other day, the first in a long time. You don't get them in town much, but that wild killdee, killdee, killdee immediately took me back to my childhood.

I was walking in the pasture, up along the old railroad grade that cut through a corner of our farm. A killdeer popped up in front of me, limping and crying piteously, one wing extended to drag on the ground.

I knew that trick, of course. I'd seen it played on our farm dogs. They'd follow the injured bird, panting and yapping, until they were far enough from the hidden chicks, at which point a miraculous healing would take place, and the bird would fly away.

So I stopped dead. Looked all around me. And there, right at my feet was a little cup in the grass, filled yin/yang with two killdeer chicks, still downy, with gangly, oversized legs. I watched for a moment, then carefully took a step backwards, turned around and walked away. A few days later I brought my brother John to see the nest, but mother killdeer had moved her brood, and even the nest couldn't be found.

My killdeers aren't broken-winged birds, but handsome, healthy and happy to distract your attention toward our tall mugs, pie plates, small square bakers and dessert plates.

But don't look away, or they'll be gone.