Thursday, August 16, 2007

Up on the Roof

Some wildlife has taken kindly to suburbia, delighting in man’s manipulation of the landscape. Deer and the Canada Geese like our environment so well, they’ve overpopulated into pests.

Others are more subtle at adapting. The Killdeer, a common plover that looks as if it belongs on a beach where most of its cousins live, is doing well, population surveys report. This might seem odd since Killdeer nest on the open ground, and in the suburbs, about the only open grounds are lawns and parking lots.

Killdeer will in fact nest on grassy islands in the middle of shopping center lots. If a shopper gets too close, mom or pop will stage the famous broken-wing act, fluttering along the ground to draw attention away from a well-camouflaged nest.

Many Killdeer have discovered much safer nesting grounds. The flat roofs of the shopping centers and office buildings that fill our business districts provide fine Killdeer homesites. The parents don’t have to worry about four-legged predators – or two-legged interlopers – and can concentrate on watching for the usual enemies from above, such as crows and hawks.

For the Killdeer, up on the roof can be down home.

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