Bird of the Week – The Killdeer

Killdeer technically, are shorebirds. Thus, you’d expect to find them at the shore of a river or lake, or maybe even the beach, but no – they like to hang out in all sorts of other habitats like fields, parking lots, golf courses and gravely rooftops. I suppose being keen on human created habitats is a plus, except that you are more likely to get hit by a car or to get poisoned by some pesticide or other. It must be their body build then, that lumps them together with other shorebird species: a big head, big eyes, a long slender body and long legs to run on. Killdeer are the size of a really big robin, with white undersides and a light brown back and head. Their best distinguishing mark are two wide black bands around the neck and breast. Like all other shorebirds, they are also nervous looking birds unable to sit still for more than 2 seconds!!

Killdeer are also total fakers.

You may have been had by one pretending to have a broken wing running away from you in spurts. That’s all in an effort to distract you away from its nest. I think it’s all rather unnecessary. Killdeer nest on the ground and their splotchy eggs blend right in with whatever surface they are on. Even if you were standing right beside a nest I bet you’d have a hard time pointing out the eggs. They take their cleverness even further, often “scratching” fake nests all around the real one – perhaps all to confuse predators.

So when out and about this weekend, keep your ear out for a bird flying overhead telling you to : “killdeer!! Killdeer! Killdeer!!”. Don’t listen to it!

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