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Killdeer, Up Close and Personal

Holly Lanzaron’s picture tells a whole story of a new family

Amid the ordinary, Holly Lanzaron chanced upon the extraordinary. In a shopping center parking lot in Deale, on the crushed stone, a mother killdeer sat hatching four speckled eggs.
    “We didn’t know that she was nesting right away,” said the Southern Middle-Schooler on Deale Elks Club’s sponsored photo safari with Muddy Creek Artists Guild mentor Bea Poulin and Hannah Dove. “At first we thought that the bird was wounded and could not fly.”
    Strange as the sight seemed, it’s not strange for killdeer. The mid-sized plover whose name imitates its cry loves open areas. You see these long-legged birds scampering across lawns, golf courses and, yes, parking lots. For nesting, they like the ground, dirt or rocks and belly out a little depression to which twigs might later be added, as you see in Holly’s photo.
    To protect her open-air nest, Mother Killdeer uses several strategies. Thus, as she noticed the approaching trio, Holly recalls, “she let out a really loud scream that hurt our ears.”
    Another strategy is the broken-wing feign, also displayed in Holly’s photo.
    “We did end up spooking her,” Holly says, “but she did not want to leave her eggs.”
    To photograph the brooding bird, Holly “shot from a distance and zoomed in really close.
    “It was one of my best photographs,” says the young shutterbug, “and I am proud of it. The bird has eggs under her, and this shows she is starting a family.”
    Look at Holly’s picture, and you’ll know exactly how killdeer look: red-rimmed eye, mottled brown head and wings, white breast, two distinctive black neck rings and unfeathered three-toed feet. You’ll also see her habitat and brooding behavior. It’s quite a story this picture tells.

Hannah Dove, Bea Poulin and Holly ­Lanzaron. While on the Deale Elks’ photo safari, Lanzaron photographed this mother killdeer in a parking lot.