Monday, April 21, 2008

Killdeer Nesting


Can you see the Killdeer on the nest?
Of course you can.
Can you see the eggs when she walks away?
Probably not, unless you are looking at the nest when she walks away.

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Photographed in front of Casa Manana Theater in Ft. Worth

The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover.

Their breeding habitat is open fields or lawns, often quite far from water, across most of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, with isolated populations in Costa Rica and Peru. Killdeer nest on open ground, often on gravel or among rocks. They may use a slight depression in the gravel to hold the eggs, but they don't line it at all, or line it only with a few stones. Since there is no structure to stand out from its surroundings, a killdeer nest blends marvelously into the background. Furthermore, the speckled eggs themselves look like stones.

Killdeer eggs

Killdeer hatchlings are precocial birds like many other waders. Birds which hatch blind, naked, and helpless are called altricial. Most birds are born altricial and utterly rely on their parents to bring them food.

Precocial birds stay in the egg twice as long as altricial birds, so they have more time to develop. A one-day-old Killdeer chick is actually two weeks more developed than a one-day-old American Robin nestling. Although adult Robins and Killdeer are the same size, a Killdeer's egg is twice the size of a Robin's. There is more nourishment in the Killdeer egg, to sustain the embryo for its longer time in the shell.

They are migratory in northern areas and winter as far south as northern South America. They are rare vagrants to Western Europe, usually late in the year.

These birds forage for food in fields, mudflats, and shores, usually by sight. They mainly eat insects.

Their name comes from their frequently heard call. These birds will frequently use the "broken-wing act" to distract predators from their nests. This involves the bird walking away from its nesting area holding its wing in a position that simulates an injury and then flapping around on the ground emitting a distress call. The predators then think they have easy prey and are attracted to this seemingly injured bird and away from the nest. If the parent sees that a potential predator is not following them, they will move closer and get louder until they get the attention of the predator.

Their ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat has helped keep them common and widespread in their range.


Troy and Martha



Stacey Huston said...

Ok this is too funny. Not you post, that is great and informative. Each Friday night I go through and make up my posts for the week, I don't always get the words done, but I at least choose the photos, and get them all put into file for easy upload each morning. For Tuesday I have ready a killdeer photo and a photo of her eggs. LOL. Last week I had osprey photos ready, but after seeing osprey of three or four other blogs, I changed it. Anyhow great photos, and very informative, must be that time of year :) Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Great photo!
The little one is very well disguised.

Duncan said...

Great post Troy and Martha, thoroughly enjoyed it. Often wondered how the bird got its name. Have got photos of a Red-capped Plover which echo yours, the behaviour of the bird is the same too, with the broken wing trick. The only way I managed to get a picture of the bird on the nest was to have my wife with me and then have her walk away, they don't count too well!

fishing guy said...

Troy & Martha: The killdeer is common around here also. I think it's funny how they try to direct you away from their nests when in a field with that injured act. These are great pictures of her and the eggs.
I don't think a big flock of them could ever kill a deer.

The Texican said...

You are determined to make me an educated birder aren't you? Well, you learned me something new today. Keep up the good work.

Judi (Gmj) said...

This is one of my favorite bird, cause I can recognize them easily. :)

AphotoAday said...

How interesting! Bet the Killdear has been getting away with that trick for millions of years -- you'd think that their predators would have caught on by now...
And I've seen Easter eggs and big jelly-beans decorated exactly that same way -- didn't know nature was such an abstract artist!

Island Rambles Blog said...

We have lots of killdeeer here but I never have found a nest yet..great shots......not many of our shorebirds are around now....cheers.

Marvin said...

A very informative post illustrated with great photos.

I've seen a few killdeer up here in the Ozarks. Their camouflage strategy wouldn't work well in most of our terrain, but they are very good at seeking out the appropriate gravelly areas. Unfortunately, many of those gravelly locations end up being parking lots or at the edge of roads. Pickups and SUVs are seldom distracted by the broken wing trick.

Sandpiper said...

Wonderful pictures and a great post. I love watching killdeer. They're just so cute!

Kathiesbirds said...

I love killdeeer. I saw one last Saturday near the Green Valley Pecan Company. Excellent photos and excellent, informative post!

Katney said...

Wehave kileer here. I would have gotten a picture a week or so ago on a walk if I had had my zoom with me. OF course, I can usually never seem to get near enough to birds to get a good picture and the strong zoom is essential to get any picture. I guess that's why I do wildflowers--theys tay put.


Beautiful and informative shots.

Carol said...

ah yes, i remember this little gal.... such a cutie...

we had one on our property and she made a nest in a gravelled area by the side of the garage... she was quite brazen in her attempts to make us turn and walk in the other direction...

a great photo and informative..

i enjoyed