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Shorebird nests!

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Shorebirds naturally nest very precariously, typically in slight divots on the grounds with sparse material, if any at all, to line the nests with. Given their exposed nature, the eggs are similarly colored to the substrate and have varying degrees of maculation for better survivability. Many species, such as the Northern lapwing in the first photo (it’s nest in the subsequent two photos) will defend their nests with gusto (dive-bombing) and will make it fully known that there is a nest nearby. Black-winged stilts and pied avocets (nests pictured) will sound off alarm calls as the sight of a perceived threat and will get louder the closer the threat comes to the nest. Collared pratincole (last few pictures) will often attempt to distract the threat away from the nest, often feigning an injury, rather than give the location away.

Given the precarious locations of their nests, in the middle of a breeding season in a large aviary, you must be cautious of where you step! As all of our aviaries are community types, where species of many taxa are housed together to create a more naturalistic environment, you can run the risk of accidental stepping, curiosity, or outright predation from the other species. To help mitigate these risks, we use “dummy” eggs to replace the real eggs. You can see various examples of this in the pictures provided; they are the lighter colored eggs. This not only helps to protect the eggs, it also keeps the birds from abandoning a nest. If you were to pull an egg without a proper replacement, they will cease their nesting attempt. The lighter color does not make a difference to the bird, as long as there is an egg of similar size and shape present, they will continue.

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