Yesterday while walking past a power substation, I noticed a killdeer on the other side of the fence staring at me.
When a killdeer is very interested in you, that is a sign that she has something to hide. Most likely eggs or young. If she had just kept sitting and incubating, I probably would have never noticed her, but this blatant stalking was way to obvious. I wonder if she is a first time nester?
The killdeer started her wounded bird display. You could easily see the rusty feathers they flash to give the appearance of a bloody injury. I would guess this is learned behavior, as the chicks will see the female give it whenever danger is nearby. When you see a killdeer give this display, this is a time to stop walking and look all around before you next step. She is trying to lead you away from the nest or young and you could be quite close to these very camoflaged items. I saw her trying to take me towards the right, so I focused my attention to the left.
I don't know how well you can see this, but on the lower right hand corner are the eggs--right next to the fence and in the upper left corner is the killdeer still trying to lure me away. Here's a better view of the nest:
On the surface this looks like a good spot, this is a very well fenced area with a few tiny pockets that will be just big enough for the chicks to walk out of. On the other hand, the nest is close enough to the fence that an enterprising raccoon on the outside could conceivably reach in and grab the eggs. If she make it through incubation she should be okay, because the chicks will run around as soon as they are hatched. Another consideration I don't think the killdeer took in was that there is a pair of kestrels nesting insided the fenced substation as well. Many challenges for this nest, maybe she knows something I don't.
She kept up her display, and she was working so hard I felt I owed it to her to play along. Plus, I didn't want to linger to long at the nest. The scent of humans can get a raccoons attention and lead them to the nest. So I played along and followed this faux injured bird. When I made for a pounce she flew away. Whenever killdeer finally do the final fly away they always give a version of their call that that has a laughing quality to it. I wonder how that evovled. Perhaps to taunt the chaser to go after and punch the killdeer, thereby leading the predator further from the nest.