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Commercial Egg Conditioning.
Killdeers Adapt to Rooftop Nesting and so do A/C Techs

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Commercial Egg Conditioning...

It is a standard construction application to finish off a flat roof with a layer of river pebbles which are raked out over the top of the roofing material to ballast and protect the waterproof membrane. And, it is a common practice of architects and engineers to design systems so that package air conditioners, condensing units, air-handlers, ventilation fans are located on the roof. So, commercial air conditioning mechanics spend a lot of time on rooftops because that is where their equipment is!

The natural habitat of the Killdeer is on beaches and in riverbeds where sand and pebbles are plentiful. But, man's intrusion on the beaches with beach homes, hotels, recreational facilities, four-wheelers, atv's and boat ramps has forced the Killdeer to seek other nesting areas. Some birds have adapted by nesting on gravel-covered roofs. It seems to be a nearly perfect solution as rooftops are generally free from most predators.

No matter whether you call the Charadrius Vociferous a 'Kildee", "Killdey" or "Killdeer", the bird is named for the its song. When it vocalizes, it seems to be saying "Killdeer! , Killdeer!". The killdeer prefers a diet of insects, mosquitos, weevils, beetles, grasshoppers, and weed seeds.

Up on the large, flat roofs of schools, auditoriums, warehouses and shopping malls, Killdeer mating pairs make their nests. Both the male and female take part in all of the nesting activities. The male makes a nest by hollowing out a shallow scrape in the rocks or gravel. The female lays as many as four highly camouflaged eggs which perfectly blend with the background of small pebbles.

The most distinct behavior of the Killdeer is the "Broken Wing Act". If a predator comes close to their nest, Killdeer parents will defend their eggs and their chicks by faking a broken wing. This elaborate production , complete with a pained song and a red (natural fake blood) markings on the wing , is designed to draw a predator away from the search for the nest to pursue an "easy kill" instead. Air conditioning technicians on the roof need to pay attention to the urgency of the mother's call. If she is very agitated, it usually means the technicians are close to a chick or a nest . They should watch closely to avoid accidentally stepping on a well-camouflaged egg.

The expectant parents incubate the eggs for about 25 days. When the young are first hatched, they are completely covered in fuzzy down. Resembling fluffy cotton balls with long stick legs, the fledglings leave the nest as soon as their fuzzy down is dry. Chicks are able to forage and feed themselves within 24 hours of hatching and are able to fly off the rooftop within two or three weeks.

Last month, my crew was engaged in placing two large condensing units on a second-story roof. These units would need to be lifted to the roof by a crane and would subsequently need to be dollied to their final location. In the briefing with the crane operator, we advised him of the location of all the killdeer bird nests in the vicinity. We were able to transport and set all units on the roof without even upsetting a single Killdeer Mom.

On a follow-up service call a few weeks later, I was pleased to count eleven chicks.



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