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Westwood preschoolers enjoying surprise nature lesson

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By Douglas McCulloch
Hometown Weekly Staff

Preschoolers at the Westwood Integrated Preschool have been getting a unique nature lesson after a family of killdeer chose their playground as a nesting location.

On April 13, a staff member of the Westwood Integrated Preschool discovered one of the birds on the school playground. The bird squawked at the staff members as they got close to it, prompting the staff member to believe the bird was injured.

After researching the bird and reaching out to Massachusetts Audubon Society, it was soon determined that the bird was a female killdeer.

Although staff members had originally thought the bird was injured and was not able to make it back to its nest, they soon learned that killdeer do not create their own nests in trees like most birds, but rather set up a nest in wide open locations such as fields and, sometimes, playgrounds.

Since the bird could not be moved to another location, Westwood Integrated Preschool Director Aprile Albertelli decided they would have to let the birds stay.

“We have 50 kids but we couldn’t move the bird,” Albertelli said. “We decided that we needed to share our playground with our new friend.”

Over the past few weeks, the birds have become the talk of the school. The school set up construction cones and fencing to protect the eggs and birds. Every day, the preschoolers are eagerly returning to school to see what their new friends are up to.

“It’s been quite the excitement around here,” Albertelli said. “The kids are excited to see how many new eggs are laid.”

According to the teacher’s research, female killdeer are expected to lay about five eggs. When the killdeer was found, only one egg was visible, but as the days went on she began laying more eggs.

Over the past few weeks, the kids have enjoyed watching the birds from a safe distance. After a few days, the kids spotted a male killdeer taking care of the eggs and bringing food back for the female.

Albertelli noted that the birds have also prompted a lot of questions from the curious preschoolers, giving teachers the opportunity to give lessons about nature and parenting in the wild.

As the female killdeer has finished laying all of her eggs, now the students have turned their attention to deciding on what to name the offspring. Each class will hold a contest to decide on a name.

“Our last class is June 14, so I’m hoping the kids will get to see the babies,” Albertelli said.

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