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Sunday’s Story Diversion

Today I chose to give the reader something entirely different. I’m giving you a small creative nonfiction piece, a nature piece with teeth. Okay, few teeth, but a beak or two. I hope you enjoy the diversion.

A MOTHER’S CHOICE

By Claudette J. Young

 

Hey, watch it! I’ve got my kids over here!

Humans, phht. They never look where they’re going, always rolling about in their metal machines. Think they own the world. I’ve got enough to worry about without dealing with their hazards. They’re everywhere, though.

What’s a mother to do?

I have to keep a cautious eye on the humans getting out of the machine. At least that thing no longer growls or coughs out poison. As soon as they go inside their cave, it will be quiet again.

After they pass I quick-step back to the nest and become invisible again. Oh, no! The big human and a small one are walking my way.

The big human walks back toward me and my brooding little ones. The small human runs around the big one, making noise. The big one pauses, searching the ground with his eyes.

He hunts for me, I barely breathe. I will not react unless he comes closer. He keeps looking, puts out a limb to keep the small human away.

He takes a slow, wary step. I tense. Soon I must act for the protection of my children-in-shells.

There! Too close!

I leap away from my nest to sound my own scream, high and wild, to force his attention to me. I move sideways. I drag my wing on the ground, sounding pitiful and injured. I draw the humans toward me and away from my little ones in their protective shells.

The big one looks toward my nest but cannot see my children. They blend so well into the gravel around them and the dirt. He looks back to me but remains unmoving. He keeps the little human still.

The human makes a soothing sound. He moves backward to make room for me to return to my nest. He shoos his little one back to their cave.

When they disappear, I can begin my spiral return to my eggs. My circle grows shorter with each full turn. As I reach my eggs I check for damage.

It is safe now for me to care for my children-in-shells. Another time will come when I must again protect them. For now I can rest.

A mother killdeer’s life is not easy. I must stay alert throughout day and night. I feed early and late in the day when the world is quiet and fewer are moving around. I must be aware of cats, owls, coyotes, and dogs. All would take me or my children-in-shells for a snack.

Just because camouflage helps keep us safe does not mean that dangers are few. The same camouflage can also cause us danger. With so many humans and their pet animals moving around, they cannot see us until it is too late. Many of us have been squashed flat because we are not seen.

Still, this is my life. What else is a mother to do?

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