Down by the river everybody is busy hatching the new families. Some black-necked stilts were quite fast this year; their tiny little fluff balls are already out and about. As every year the parent birds are on high alert: Anything larger than a stilt is a potential danger to the chicks.
What do black-necked stilts (being rather small and fragile birds) do to protect their young as long as they can’t fly? As soon as the parent birds see anything dangerous approaching, they start to lure the assumed predator away.
Hey, I am here. HERE!
Look, something is wrong with me.
I can’t fly.
My legs are giving up.
I’m done – broken wing, can’t run any more.
If the assumed predator now approaches the stilt, the bird musters up the last remnants of strength to fly again. Not very far, then it has to land again… that wing, you know… just a bit farther away from the spot where the little ones are hiding. This game continues until the stilt calculates that the distance to the hiding place is long enough – end of operation, miracle cure, the stilt flies away and returns to the spot where the chicks are safely tucked away, in a nice grass thicket or such. There the other parent joins in to give the “all clear” signal.
# 1 has left cover.
# 2 made it safely back too – hurray, the family is united again.