Over the weekend I took a stroll to a gravel pit near my house to do some rock picking. The vegetation was sparse; a few grasses and ferns poking through the dirt and rocks. Fresh tire tracks from an excavator left a trail of freshly dug up pebbles. As I bent over to examine a rock that caught my eye, there was an explosion of feathers and screeching. I nearly jumped out of my boots!
I turned my head to see a peculiar looking plover of sorts. It had a white chest barred with two black bands, a large, round head, large eyes, and a short bill. She did not seem pleased. As I stood up to observe the obviously concerned bird, I noticed a tiny, very well camouflaged, neat little nest. Nestled inside were four perfect tannish-brown eggs speckled with black. If she hadn’t surprised me, I very well may have stepped right on the eggs!
What mamma did next surprised me. With rapid bursts of high-pitched sound she made a distress call. Within a few seconds, the male flew in. Both birds began limping and drooping their wings. The male even lay down and flopped around as if it had a broken wing. I stepped closer to see what had happened to cause the injury. As soon as I got close, both birds sprung up—back to perfect health— ran a few spurts forward and began acting injured once again! Ahhh, now I understood. I was the predator that they were attempting to lure away from their nest. I left them in peace.