Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Killdeer in our fields

We are fortunate to have a wide variety of wildlife on the farm. Each spring, our farm becomes home to killdeer birds. With their tiny nests nestled into the debris and weeds of the untilled fields, it is a challenge to see their eggs. Luckily, the killdeer adults put on quite a show to get our attention.

When walking near a nest, the adult killdeer make a loud call and pretend to be injured, hoping to attract potential predators away from a nest to an easier (and potentially more fulfilling) meal. While this works in some circumstances, it also announces to the crows that there is, indeed, a nest nearby.

Killdeer make our work challenging at times. They nest in the middle of the fields, often necessitating a tractor detour in order to avoid their nests during field preparation. At the same time, they eat a lot of pests and are phenomenally entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, as with the nest above, even if we are able to find a nest and work around it, other animals such as crows and ravens take the eggs.

Overall, killdeer are one piece of a larger part of the biodiversity we try to foster on the farm. Their presence provides us a benefit and, in turn, we try to ensure our farm is friendly to the wildlife looking for space in an increasingly crowded landscape.

For more information about the killdeer, check out the Hinterland Who's Who profile.

Eagle release at the farm

An OWL staff member removes the recovered eagle from a cage before it is released. Note the gigantic wingspan.

Given our location on the migratory flight path of many species of birds, we are fortunate to see many of these birds on the farm at various points in the year. Raptors that stop by include bald eagles, barn owls, turkey vultures and hawks.

Last month, John and Barb found an injured, juvenile, bald eagle in the forested area of the farm. Realizing that the bird wouldn't be safe or able to recover on its own, they contacted the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL).

OWL staff came to the farm and collected the eagle. A few weeks later, they called to let us know they would be bringing the recovered eagle back for release.

On the day of the release, everyone on the farm gathered to watch. As shown in the photos here, eagles are very large birds -- their wingspans are approximately 6 feet. We often watch them soar high above us while we work in the fields. To see one up close was pretty spectacular.

OWL specializes in birds of prey (raptors) and treats over 300 birds a year. Located in Delta BC, they run educational programs as well as rehabilitative treatment.