WARNING - CONFRONTING IMAGE: A wildlife rescuer has been reduced to tears after the nest of chicks she had been monitoring for almost a week were “intentionally crushed”.
On Sunday, WIRES volunteer Inga Tiere took to Facebook to share her excitement that the eggs were about to hatch.
“Yep, it's plover season. These eggs are due to hatch tomorrow,” she wrote.
Ms Tiere's joy was being overshadowed by concern the tiny plover chicks were being raised on a construction site in the fast-developing region of Tahmoor, southwest of Sydney.
“Another big housing estate going in, aargh. But, there are areas around for them to go,” she continued.
What gave Ms Tiere hope was that workers at the site had created an exclusion zone around the nest. They’d even hammered a post into the ground to mark their location so vehicles didn’t drive over them.
Importantly, the site where the nest was situated would not be developed for another two to three weeks, giving the chicks time to grow up.
Swooping plovers mostly all bluff
Plovers, also known as masked lapwings, are precocial, meaning they are born covered in down and feed themselves.
Adult bonded pairs nest on the ground, leaving them vulnerable to predators, both human and animal.
As a result parent birds frequently swoop potential threats who enter their nesting zone, but despite sporting a fearsome call and spiked yellow wings their antics are mostly bluff.
Wildlife carer breaks down as parent bird grieves
Like all native birdlife in NSW, plovers are a protected species and Ms Tiere is urging anyone with information about the dead chicks to contact WIRES.
“There were no tyre marks, so I think someone intentionally trespassed on this block of land and did it with his feet,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“One sibling would have already hatched and the others were due to soon. So they were baby birds, alive.
“It was disgusting. It got me big time today.”
While some Australians may scoff at a nest of eggs being crushed, birds are known to have complex emotions and will grieve the loss of a family member.
“I cried my eyes out while I was there, but now I just feel angry,” Ms Tiere said.
“It was because the parent plovers were still there. The mother wouldn’t leave. She was half a metre from the nest.
“I actually had to scrape it all away. I couldn’t just leave it there. She was grieving.”
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