Bird of the Week: Killdeer

For many landlocked birders, the Killdeer is the only shorebird they are likely to see at home year round. These small, active plovers are built for wading but are true habitat generalists, and can be found almost anywhere they can find food and nest sites, including parks, sports fields, and golf courses. Like many birds of open ground, Killdeer are ground nesters, making their young particularly vulnerable to predators and even unintentional crushing by careless livestock or humans. In order to protect their chicks, Killdeer will perform elaborate displays to confuse, deceive, or intimidate anything that might threaten them (a common tactic is to feign injury such as a broken wing in order to draw a predator away from the nest site). The Killdeer gets its name from its loud, insistent cry, often given when startled, which earned it the name of “chattering plover” or “noisy plover” from early naturalists.

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Image courtesy of James LeVeque via Flickr Creative Commons

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