A Life Lesson on Protecting the Killdeer Bird

A father shares a life lesson with his young daughters when protecting the killdeer bird while plowing the fields.

| January/February 2007

  • bird
    Killdeer bird.
    MICHELE TREMAINE
  • plowhorses2
    Plowing the fields and discovering the killdeer bird.
    ILLUSTRATION: MICHELE TREMAINE
  • eggs
    Killdeer eggs.
    MICHELE TREMAINE

  • bird
  • plowhorses2
  • eggs

A life lesson is learned protecting the killdeer bird while plowing the fields. 

As long as I live I will fondly remember my father plowing with horses in the 1930s on our farm near Kokomo, Indiana. The Great Depression had hit and purchasing a tractor was out of the question.

But if my father had not plowed slowly — the only option with horses — I might never have learned about protecting the killdeer bird and its ways. And I might never have known, as deeply as I do, what my father was like, for he didn't express his feelings openly.

In the spring when school was out, my sister, Betty, and I would follow my father and his plow. It was fun to walk barefoot in the fresh furrow. School books were forgotten and the magic of new life in the outdoors was opening. I never tired of it. I never tire of it now.



My father pointed out the birds and their calls by name. The bobwhite, who plainly announced himself. The red-winged blackbird, with its chirr-r, chirr-r, and the bobolink, that musically called spink-spank-spink. Thrushes and meadowlarks were plentiful, too. We knew them as friends.

One day as we were walking along behind my father and his plow, Betty and I heard the shrill cry of a bird we didn't recognize. Then off to the side, we saw a brown bird with a white breast and two dark bands on its throat flopping along on the ground. We thought it had an injured wing or leg. My father saw it too and stopped the horses.





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