When it’s hot and droughty on the Texas coast, freshwater ponds begin to dry, and wading birds that have nested along their edges sometimes find life complicated by the vicissitudes of nature.
This baby black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), one of three being led across a desolate mud flat by its mother, finally tired of the heat and exertion and just sat down — unwilling or unable to go on.
After only a minute or two, the mother realized one of her brood was missing, and came back to have a little talk with the tired one.
I couldn’t hear the conversation, but I suspect she sounded like any mother: “If you want some shade, some water, and something to eat, you’d better stick with us.”
Whatever she said, it was enough to get the baby on its feet again, ready to rejoin the family.
Despite the distance across the dried-up pond, they were fast walkers. One of the other chicks tended to dawdle and missed being included in this photo, but it wasn’t far behind. Even at the time, the well-camouflaged chicks were hard to pick out against the mud.
Soon, all three were tucked away in a safer location. As they disappeared into the small thicket of broken reeds and vegetation, I wondered which of us was more relieved.
In time, wings will grow and rain will come. They’ll begin enjoying life as the graceful beauties that they are, and I’ll be glad to enjoy them again.
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