the long driveway that leads to my family's home is gravel -- a pleasant trail for rugged tires to venture to and fro; an unpleasant place for flip-flopped feet. the darn rocks are pointy and not exactly inviting where my tender feet are concerned. still, one species other than tires or feet (neither of which are a species per se) has made its home on said gravel... birds.
not just any birds, my friend. i did my research after nearly running over the chirpy creatures on more than one occasion and found that these feisty plovers (one in particular) are ground birds who often nest on gravel. after closer inspection of the overly zealous killdeer, i realized that indeed this mama bird was simply protecting her four speckled eggs.
apparently, her seemingly ridiculous behavior is all a part of her defense mechanism. this particular species, when threatened by tires or flip-flopped feet, runs from her eggs squealing and flailing about as if in pain. these clever birds understand that if a predator were to approach them, they would rather go for an easy kill (i.e. an injured bird) than her camouflaged eggs. why weed through the gravel for a few eggs when you can have a grown bird for little to no effort?
my research left me questioning what exactly the mama birds then do to their prey once they've lured them away from their eggs. my conclusion: their piercing squeal leaves the predator begging for mercy... kind of like my flip-flopped feet after a walk on the treacherous gravel.