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Killdeer chick with brains outside of its skull

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by desertdarlene, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    First, for those who don't know, a killdeer is a little plover that often lives near baseball fields, lakes, golf courses, etc. They used to be hunted as game birds until the Migratory Bird Treaty Act banned all hunting on them.

    I've been watching the killdeer in this one area for a couple of years now. Last April, a pair had lost their nest to crows, but found solace in helping the female's parents with some new chicks that hatched out a few days later. Today, I was surprised to see this almost grown killdeer chick with the mom and dad who lost their nest. I was so happy for them because they seemed to really want to have babies. I had no idea that they even had a nest. I took lots of photos not noticing that anything was wrong except that mom and dad weren't freaking me out like they always do. They let me get really close. There were a bunch of crows, seagulls and a Cooper's hawk chasing them around, so maybe they felt like I could be some protection for the little chick.

    Well, when I got home and looked at the photos, I noticed that the chick's head looked a little strange. It appears that half her skull was gone! And, I can see a bald pink spot near the back right above her neck. I can't believe she's made it to three weeks old like this! I call her Miracle.

    I couldn't get a good photo of the pink bulge. I assume the brain is still encased in fat and skin. She acts and moves totally normal. She's so cute! I wonder how long she'll live. I think there might be two other chicks nearby, hiding. I sure hope so for the parents' sake as I would hate for them to lose all their babies a second time.

    Here's a photo of the little chicky and her dad. The pink bulge is on the other side of her skull in the back:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  2. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    When we lived in WA state, we had killdeers on our property. I loved watching them.



    I wonder if Miracle was attacked and lost part of her skull as a younger chick.


    Incredible, birds are truely incredible.
     
  3. pdsavage

    pdsavage Sussex Monarch

    Mar 27, 2008
    NW,Missouri
    Poor little thing...I see them at the kids school all the time,I think they are cute.
     
  4. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    San Diego
    Thanks for looking. My sense is that she was hatched that way, but it may have not been noticeable or a problem until she got bigger and her brain started growing.

    She seemed to be an extremely happy, well adjusted chick with two devoted parents. My only concern is that she didn't run or move as fast as I've seen other chicks do, but it could be because she wasn't afraid enough. They take their cues from their parents and her parents were very calm with me around, today. The only time she got upset was when the parents started to worry. But, even when the dad was brooding her and a Cooper's hawk swiped down at them, she didn't seem too concerned.

    But, if something doesn't get her, I don't know how much longer she can live as her brain is still growing and is mostly sitting or pressing out at the top of her spinal cord, it looks like (no skull to keep it "in place"). At least I know she has had a good life.
     
  5. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here are some more photos. I didn't want to post them before because they were blurry. It almost appears that her brain grew so large that it split the skull or her brain grew normally, but her skull did not. Either that or she's got a tumor. The head appears to be very small for her age.

    A side view:

    [​IMG]

    The other side is worse. I wonder if she can see out of that eye:

    [​IMG]

    You can see the skull split in the back:

    [​IMG]

    Edited to add: Could it be possible that her skull is intact and it's only the skin/feathers that have split? Her family does have a history of problems with their head feathers and crests.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011

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