Killdeer

Hey guys, welcome back! Today, the first shorebird I can remember seeing; the killdeer. Killdeer are an example of a bird being named after the mnemonic of their call. Supposedly, their call sounds like “kill-deer” but, as I’ve mentioned before, mnemonics, while useful, rarely sound like what I hear. But that’s just me. Killdeer are large plovers (though still fairly small birds; about the size of an American robin) and have a cool looking brown white and black pattern. The only bird that looks similar in color pattern is the smaller semi-palmated plover, but the killdeer have two black bands across their breast as opposed to the semi-palmated plover’s one.

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Killdeer, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Unlike a lot of shorebirds, the killdeer can be found in fields, golf courses, even parking lots well away from water, though they also live near the edges of ponds and lakes. I always remember the killdeer, as its one of the earliest birds I knew stuff about. Down the street from my house growing up, they used to nest in my friend’s driveway. They like to nest in gravel, and have spotted eggs that kind of look like rocks. It was then that I learned probably the killdeer’s most known trait. If a predator (or in this case a human) gets too close to it’s nest, the parent killdeer will act like it has a broken wing. It displays its wing in a way so it looks injured; an easy target for a predator. The “injured” killdeer will then lead the predator away from the nest. Really cool stuff. I remember it vividly.

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Killdeer, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Despite that, once I got to New York, I almost never saw one unless I was out at Jamaica Bay or somewhere shorebirding. I can only remember seeing one in Central Park once. Once I moved to St. Louis, and went birding in Forest Park, they were everywhere! You’ll sometimes hear them flying above. But don’t be fooled. European Starlings can, and often do, make a sound very similar to a killdeer. Look for a bird with a sterotypical shorebird flight silhouette. That is, long, angled, pointed wings. Also, like most shorebirds, they run along the ground, rather than hop! Apparently they are also good swimmers, though I’ve never seen one swimming haha! And with that, I think we’ll wrap this one up. Next time, a bird that I see by the dozens here in Ohio: the Turkey Vulture! See you all then!

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