Construction workers had just finished the brand-new cork and synthetic turf field at Sacramento’s Rio Americano High School in late-March when they discovered some birds had taken up residence on the field. A pair of killdeer birds had began nesting on the field and laid four eggs on the “I” in the Raiders’ east endzone.
Now, with about 2 weeks left until the eggs hatch, school officials have opted to wait to open the field until they can safely extract the newly hatched chicks. Fortunately for the school’s athletes, the hatch will only affect one lacrosse game.
The high school, which sits along the American River, is used to animal sightings and happy to allow the killdeers to flourish on their campus. Since the new synthetic turf is similar to the material the birds use to nest, they decided to call the new field their home.
Ever since crews put up a 60-foot perimeter surrounding the nest, all eyes are on the eggs to hatch and flourish before the brand-new field can be used.
Killdeer are slender birds that are mostly white and brown and like to nest near shallow water, like the American River levee next to the school. While the birds aren’t endangered, their populations have declined in recent years due to rising temperatures. Their typical incubation time takes between 24 and 28 days.
The move has been applauded by environmentalists and questioned by parents. Luckily for everyone, the birds didn’t decide to nest during football season.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine