Construction crews working around birds that built nest at local school's playground area

Students also took action to protect birds

LEMON GROVE, Calif. - A playground under construction at Vista La Mesa Academy in Lemon Grove is getting some unusual attention.

Orange cones and yellow tape surround one spot. They were put up to help protect a little bird that is camouflaged into the wood chips around it.

"I feel bad it's going to be scared, and I hope it stays," said eighth-grader Maggie Rayos.

A pair of birds decided the area would be a perfect spot for their nest.

"I think it's pretty cool that there's the mother here," she said.

Construction crews tore up the playground and will install new equipment soon. They volunteered to work around the area to protect the eggs.

"I thought it was pretty nice that they didn't try to mess with it," said Rayos.

Eighth-grader Frankie Martinez said, "I feel bad because it's just, like, sitting there and when we weren't on vacation, people were surrounding it."

About 200 second- and third-graders were curious.

"They would ask what's going on, or if the bird was OK and stuff like that," said Rayos.

The seventh- and eighth-graders became the teachers.

"I told them it was having babies and to not get near it," said Rayos.

The older kids knew the birds and their eggs were in danger of getting stepped on, so they took action.

"We did like a circle around it so little kids wouldn't get near it," said Rayos.

The staff noticed the birds and the eggs the day after Memorial Day and did some research with their students. They found that the incubation period is anywhere from 26 to 28 days.

The students and teachers took an unexpected lesson in birds, and at first glance, they thought they had something very special.

"We thought at first that it was an endangered bird, the snowy plover," said teacher Denise Hernandez.

10News pulled a picture of a snowy plover and compared it with a photo from a 10News viewer of the bird on the playground. There are similarities.

"We did more research and we found out that it was a killdeer," said Hernandez.

The killdeer bird is not endangered, but that did not matter to the children.

"We're still trying to save it," said Rayos.

More research also showed the killdeer birds tend to nest on the ground rather than in trees.

"I just hope that they, like, hatch and are healthy and stuff," said Martinez.

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