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Killdeer - What is a Killdeer?

Updated on July 3, 2011

I have heard of all sorts of bird names like, Sandpiper, Owls, Finch, Cockatiels, Parrot, Pigeons, Crows, Robins, but this is the first time I have ever heard of a Killdeer.

Photo By: Ian Leverette
Photo By: Ian Leverette

I was outside this morning with our siding contractors. We were inspecting the damage that had been done a few days earlier from the high winds. The old barn that we renovated into "The Pussycat hotel" had withstood almost hurricane force winds which came up at us from the USA. We were lucky we didn't get the tornadoes that ravaged six southern U.S. states.

A bit of the siding needed to be repaired and while I was out there talking to one of the contractors, another fellow came up and asked me if I had seen the Killdeer over by the hotel. I thought he was talking about road kill. I had never heard the word "Killdeer". He asked me to come and have a look. These little creatures are so cute up close but very protective of the eggs and there were four eggs that the mother was protecting. She was none too happy to see us approaching.

While these are familiar shorebirds, killdeers can be found in a wide range of habitats including open rural areas, pastures, driveways, wetlands, rivers and lakes as well as near railroad tracks and golf courses. The eggs are laid in these areas generally in plain view of everything. It would be so easy for a cat or another predator to swing by and grab those eggs.

But hold on a minute. When we were standing there and started to get just a little closer, another Killdeer startled us by swooping down and began flopping on the ground as if one of its wings had been injured. As we watched this bird flopping around, the mother again went back and sat very close to her eggs. This is what's called a "Stunt Trick" by the other bird, pretending to be wounded and therefore a seemingly easy target for the predator. But his stunt is only to draw the attention of the enemy and to lure it away from the nest. Once the predator gets close to this Killdeer, it flies away but keeps a close eye on the nest and will do this same stunt again until the confused thief leaves the area.

I ran back to the house and grabbed my camera. This is the photo I took and what a beautiful bird it is. The eggs take about four weeks to hatch, so I'll be keeping an eye open for the wee ones.


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