Individuals from all over Canada come to unwind in nature and admire the art at the unique Humanics Sanctuary and Sculpture Park, and wildlife are not excluded from the list of visitors. In early June, it was discovered that a killdeer nest had decided to make a temporary home at the Park. This shorebird laid its nest with three eggs right inside our outdoor fireplace, clearly on a schedule of her own. With their shrill and wailing calls, killdeers can be heard from afar.

Any time students, staff or visitors would approach the nest at the park, the bird would be threatened and act to protect her eggs. The killdeer’s unique strategy to protect their nest is to diverge the attention of the seeming predator by pretending to be wounded. They extend their wing or leg and slightly twist it, mimicking that of a broken one, ultimately sacrificing themselves for their offspring. Upon leaving, the mother would return to her nest and look over her eggs with love and care.

Another strategy killdeers use when threatened is to intimidate larger animals such as cows and horses that can step on their eggs. In order to scare them off, the killdeer fluffs its feathers with its tail over its head and charges at the predator. The selfless nature of this bird speaks volumes and demonstrates the magical power of motherly love and responsibility.

Motherly Love by Tracy Chatsama, Chitungwiza Arts Centre, Zimbabwe

At the Humanics Sanctuary and Sculpture Park, one of our essential values is that of interconnectedness with the environment, the universe, and the world around us. Although belonging to a different species, we humans share more qualities and characteristics with animals than we realize. This motherly love and protectiveness is only one of many, and one that all mothers can relate to. The importance of family is also a prominent theme portrayed throughout the park, such as in our sculpture Motherly Love by Zimbabwean sculptor and artist Tracy Chatsama. The sculpture depicts a mother embracing her baby hippopotamus demonstrating  protection, love, commitment and unconditionality. Despite these herbivores belonging to an entirely different species, we all share this powerful connection. Ultimately, this force unites us all. 

Holy Family by Tafadzwa Tandi Chiungwiza Arts Centre, Zimbabwe

This theme is also depicted between us humans. No matter one’s race, ethnicity, religion or spirituality, the bond between a mother and child remains one of the strongest and most natural connections. This bond is limitless and absolute — one of the most powerful forces. Depicted in Tafadzwa Tandi’s sculpture Holy Family is this close bond. Nowadays as the world’s birth rate is decreasing and parents are having less children, they thus pay more attention to them to ensure a successful relationship with their child. 

After the baby birds hatched on the early morning of mid-June, the killdeers left their mark in a nest filled with eggshells. As they left, the Humanics staff was able to resume their work on the fireplace now that their guests continued their journey. Killdeer calls can still be often heard throughout the park, peaking our curiosity to whether it is our same friends visiting their old home.