By Abby Ciona
After a cold, snowy Muskoka winter, it was a beautiful spring morning: the treetops glowed with new green leaves, sparrows sang from the bushes, and chipmunks scurried through the forest, energized from their long hibernation nap.
“I’ve got it!” called Ivy, running down the shore of Mary Lake to catch a frisbee. Suddenly, a little shorebird jumped in front of Ivy, flapping and chirping.
“Woah!” Ivy yelped. “Sorry!” The bird peeped and limped away, holding its wing awkwardly to the side. Something was wrong.
“Jess, come quickly,” called Ivy. “I think she’s hurt.”
Jess ran over. “Oh, don’t worry. It’s a killdeer! These birds pretend to be hurt to distract people from their nest.”
Ivy gasped. “Her nest is nearby?”
The girls searched up and down the rocky shore, in the reeds and the sand, but there was no nest in sight.
“Well, it’s still early. Maybe they haven’t built the nest yet,” said Jess.
“I hope they do,” said Ivy. “Let’s look for them whenever we come.”
After Chapel on Sunday, Jess and Ivy went for a walk by the lake with their Dad and Mom. The two girls ran ahead to look for the killdeer.
“She’s here again!” Jess exclaimed, pointing to the killdeer running down the beach.
“We should follow her so we can see her nest,” suggested Ivy.
“Well, if she moves to the right, she’s probably trying to distract us. Her nest must be in the opposite direction,” Jess concluded.
So the girls walked the other way down the shore, taking each step carefully.
Suddenly, Ivy grabbed Jess’ arm. “Stop! Look!” A few steps ahead, camouflaged in a patch of dead grass, the father killdeer sat on four brown-speckled eggs.
“The nest is so hidden,” Jess marvelled. “How does no one step on it?”
Ivy had an idea: she began collecting twigs from underneath a maple tree and stuck the twigs in the ground around the nest area: a makeshift fence. “There. Now people won’t go near the nest, and next time we come, I’ll bring a sign.”
And so, that evening, Ivy drew a paper sign with the words, “KILLDEER NEST: DO NOT DISTURB.”
Next Saturday, Ivy and Jess were walking to the beach again with their new sign when they heard a lawn mower in the distance, coming towards the beach. They recognized the man on the lawn mower as Mr. Ken and knew that he would be happy to help them with their mission.
“Stop!” Ivy shouted, waving her arms and running to meet Mr. Ken on the lawn mower.
Mr. Ken stopped the lawn mower and removed his helmet. “What is it?”
“There’s a killdeer nest near the beach,” Ivy explained. “I don’t want you to run over it.”
“A dead deer?”
“No, a killdeer: a type of bird. She has a nest.” “Where is the nest?”
Ivy led Mr. Ken down to the beach to show him the speckled eggs hidden in the grass.
“It’s hard to see, so we made a sign so no one accidentally steps on it,” explained Jess.
Mr. Ken whistled. “I never saw anything like that. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll get proper stakes installed around the nest to keep the birds safe.”
Ivy and Jess visited the killdeer every weekend, and every time, either the Mom or Dad killdeer sat on the nest while the other kept watch and found food. At first, the killdeer were startled, but over time, the birds grew comfortable and knew the girls were friends.
But when will the eggs hatch? wondered Ivy. The days turned to weeks, but the eggs still had not hatched. Ivy was even more anxious when a thunderstorm appeared on the horizon around dinnertime.
“We should make a shelter for the killdeer,” Ivy suggested as the family sat down for dinner. “They’re out in the storm unprotected.”
“That’s probably not a good idea to go out in the storm,” said Mom.
“But the killdeer are out there! Will the eggs be okay?”
Mom put a hand on Ivy’s shoulder. “God cares about even the smallest birds, even when there are no kind girls to look out for them.”
“So it’s not weird to pray for the killdeer?” Mom smiled. “Absolutely not. He cares about what matters to you.”
The rain poured and the wind howled that night, and
Ivy was grateful for the sunshine in the morning. As soon as she and Jess finished breakfast, they ran to check on the nest.
Ivy gasped. Where the nest once was, there were only a few broken eggshells.
“What happened?” Jess whispered.
Ivy fought tears. “They’re gone!”
Peep! Peep! Peep!
Jess turned around and saw four tiny downy fluffs in the grass: newly hatched killdeer chicks hobbling around on their oversized legs!
“Ivy, look!” exclaimed Jess. “The birds aren’t dead; the eggs hatched.”
The mom and dad killdeer followed behind their babies, keeping them from trouble as they explored the world for the first time.
“Thank you, God, for protecting the killdeer family,” Ivy prayed. “It was worth the wait.”
This story was inspired by a true killdeer nest found on the beach at MBC.
Abby is an internationally published writer who loves encouraging young people to find their place in God’s story. Abby has been visiting MBC all her life but worked there for the first time in 2022. She is currently studying digital media and production at Redeemer University. Connect on Instagram @abbyciona.