June 18, 2009

Shorebird Without A Beach - Killdeer

If you were a bird, would you think it a good choice to lay your eggs on the mulch at the bottom this slide? This photo of the kids playing was taken back in April and although the farm is close, it's not quite as close as it appears in this picture.

Apparently, the killdeer who hang out in our son and dil's yard decided that Phillip's play set area would be a safe place for their three eggs. You know, a place with not much activity going on and where half the neighborhood kids don't hang out. Here he/she is looking relaxed while foraging the lawn for insects.

These three speckled eggs are almost directly at the bottom of the slide where both the male and female take turns sitting on them. Incubation last for 24-28 days and I've read that the baby killdeer come out running once hatched. The eggs are huge compared to a robin's egg. There's no nest to speak of, only a slight depression in the mulch.

When the killdeer is disturbed or feels you're getting too close to the nest, it goes into its broken wing display in hopes that as you pursue it, you'll be led farther and farther away from the nest. Then when the killdeer feels the young are safe, the broken wing suddenly heals and the bird flies away calling a loud "KILL-DEER" that sounds like a jeer. Here it is faking an injury.

Most of my information about this bird was taken from All About Birds and Birdwatching. This is a fascinating bird, a shorebird that's different than most because it often nests and lives far from water.
My favorite piece of information that I read about killdeer in Birdwatching is that seeing just one baby killdeer will bring a smile to the grouchiest face in town.


  1. I can't imagine why of all places it chose to nest there! Thanks for the great information about the "broken wing." Hey, they're pretty darned smart! And the eggs are beautiful.

  2. When I was a child in Montana there were many killdeer nesting under the sagebrush. I loved to watch the babies. Thanks for the memories. I am glad you stopped by to share breakfast with me too. Hope you enjoyed the blueberry pancakes.

  3. Not a smart place to lay eggs, lol. I hope you can get pictures of the chicks. They are so cute.

  4. Great pictures, I hope the baby chicks make it! Thanks for posting, I am never very good at taking bird photos, the birds won't hold still for me.

  5. We have watched killdeer make a nest in the middle of the gravel in a small area in the middle of a circle drive next door. Cars going around them all day...they don't care. But just try to walk through the gravel! :) ~~Rhonda

  6. Brenda - The killdeer are probably wondering why anyone would put a slide just feet away from their eggs.

    Stella - The words Montana and sagebrush make me want to visit there soon.

    sweet bay - Sounds like you've seen the chicks before. Hope I get to see them, too.

    Rosey Pollen - I'll have to speak to those birds about behaving and sitting still for you so you can get some photos.

    Rhonda - What an interesting story about nesting killdeer. They're not afraid to go after someone who's poking around the nest area.

  7. We had killdeer on the farm out in the fields. A much better place for a nest, I think. I remember the broken wing act. Thanks for stirring that memory.

  8. What a great opportunity to see this clever bird in action. We watch a lot of Discovery Channel, so I must have seen something on the killdeer, because I've heard about the fake injury tactic. I amazing to get to see it first hand.

  9. Oh Donna, whe don't have a bird like this. But I think he/she's a little clever creature doing that with his wing. Love the pics.

  10. Marie - I didn't know so many people would be interested in a post about the killdeer. Happy I could stir that memory for you.

    Lindalou - What did we all do before Discovery Channel was available to us?

    Sue - I agree, the killdeer is cool!

    Barefoot from Heaven - Nature is very clever, don't you agree.

  11. I love these birds and we find them in the strangest places around here...they just make smile !!


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