While everyone was away from Greenwich Point this spring, Mike Marks, the facility foreman, and Larry Imbrogno, the maintenance mechanic and caretaker, were the sole proprietors of the Point, taking care of everything that needed doing. Larry, his wife Jenn, and their twin sons, Tyler and Braden, age 7, had been seeing lots of wild creatures enjoying the solace. A beachgoer got the attention of Mike Marks to point out two killdeer nests on the walking paths near the water. Killdeer are in the plover family. Unlike the piping plover, killdeer are not endangered; however, like all migratory birds, they are protected and cannot be harmed. Mike immediately cordoned off the area thinking it was an endangered plover. FOGP alerted Sarah Coccaro of the Conservation Commission to advocate for the birds, and a larger area was cordoned off and signs put up by Mike and the staff.
Killdeer get their name from the shrill “kill-deer” call. They are ground nesters and do not build a nest per se but typically lay four eggs in a hollow on the ground. The incubation period is usually 24 days. Since the speckled eggs look like stones they are camouflaged in plain sight. That being the case, if Mike didn’t act as soon as he did, people might unknowingly have stepped on the nest. The male and female both take turns sitting on the nest and they often stay together for years. As soon as the young are born, they can pretty much run and hide, while being attended by the parents. They usually stay together for about 40 days eating insects and seeds. If an adult feels threatened, it will feign injury, dropping its wing to attract the predator away from the nest or young. One pair at Greenwich Point had a successful hatch. The other pair sat on the nest patiently for over 60 days being carefully supervised by park staff and finally abandoning their nest. This has been a wonderful experience for so many and a joy to share the Point with such valuable creatures. We’re not sure if this ever happened before or if it will again.