Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I was in a church parking lot trying to get a good angle on something across the street when I startled up a couple of Killdeer. These energetic birds always seem to be where you don't expect them. They way they were hopping around I imagine they had a nest nearby. I had to look up a bit of information about them
Killdeer are shorebirds you can see without going to the beach, Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, parking lots and even gravel bars. These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited "kill-deer", is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.
Killdeer have the characteristic large, round head, large eye ringed with rusty red, and short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings. Brownish-tan on top and white below. The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches. The bright orange-buff rump is conspicuous in flight.
Killdeer spend their time walking along the ground or running ahead a few steps, stopping to look around, and running on again. When disturbed they break into flight and circle overhead, calling repeatedly. Their flight is rapid, with stiff, intermittent wingbeats.
Look for Killdeer on open ground with low vegetation (or no vegetation at all), including lawns, golf courses, driveways, parking lots, and gravel-covered roofs, as well as pastures, fields, sandbars and mudflats. This species is one of the least water-associated of all shorebirds. (Excerpted from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)