In theory, Rio Americano High School (Sacramento, Calif.) should have one of the best football and lacrosse fields in the state, simply because it’s brand new. Unfortunately someone else got to the facility before the lacrosse team and found it so hospitable it just won’t leave.
As reported by Sacramento CBS affiliate KOVR and the Sacramento Bee, a pair of endangered killdeer birds created a nest and laid four eggs on the artificial turf at Rio Americano’s new stadium. The unexpected visitors forced the Rio Americano lacrosse team to move its April 9 game, expected to inaugurate the new facility for lacrosse, back to its original field.
“The bird showed up, and we’ll just let it do it’s thing and then we’ll use the field when we can,” Rio Americano principal Brian Ginter told the Bee. “We’ve had parents inquire with us, because they’re very anxious, they want to get on the field. But basically with when the bird came and what the incubation period is its only a few more days’ wait so we’re just teaching students to be patient, and then we’ll use the field when we can.”
The incubation period for a nesting killdeer is estimated to be between four and five weeks. As the birds have been in place for nearly three weeks now, the lacrosse team could still see some action on the turf field before the end of the season.
While nearly all have agreed that the decision to protect the killdeer family in situ, some have marveled that first construction workers finalizing the field and now school officials have uniformly acted to protect the interest of a pair of birds who don’t have federally protected status … but are still rare enough to justify special treatment.
“It speaks well of the high school and everything that they are doing this on their own,” California birdwatching expert David Yee told the Bee. “The truth is they don’t have to, the bird doesn’t have any special legal status.”