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July 20, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Killdeer

The Killdeer is a large, graceful Plover that can be found across most of North America. Although they are considered shore birds, they are also happy in dry habitats and on the edges of ponds and muddy lagoons. They don’t visit backyards but can be found in mown fields, athletic grounds and on golf courses.

I took this photo a few months ago in May when my bird club had an outing on a local golf course. Golf courses are a great place to see birds and after four hours we had spotted 71 species. This bird was foraging in a muddy area near the clubhouse.


A few interesting facts

  • Killdeer are usually found running on the ground and can often be heard before being seen. When excited they will make a shrill kill-DEER sound, which is how they got their name.
  • The Killdeer builds it’s nest on the ground and hides it in the open. They scratch out a hollow depression, lay their eggs and then add sticks, rocks or other debris to the nest.
  • When their nest is threatened, the bird will pretend to be hurt and struggling, moving away from the nest in an attempt to draw predators in that direction.

Killdeer - Wing Display

The bird I was observing must have had a nest near where I saw it foraging. After a few minutes it tried to distract me with the broken-wing display, fanning its red tail feathers and moving sideways along the ground. I scanned the area for a while but couldn’t see the nest. Since they lay their eggs on the ground I didn’t want to walk into the grass and stayed on the path.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. For the summer it will be hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader / Jul 20 2013 9:03 am

    I love these birds! When I was a kid I was fascinated by them. I really thought that mama bird was hurt and would spend FOREVER trying to catch her so I could fix her up, lol. Thanks for the memories 🙂


    • Leslie / Jul 20 2013 9:07 am

      And that screaming kill-DEER noise they make sounds like a hurt bird too. I know what you mean!


  2. Arti / Jul 20 2013 9:17 am

    Thanks for the info. I’ve heard of the Killdeer but now actually see one in picture. And surprised to find its nest on the ground. Nice captures of the bird here.


    • Leslie / Jul 20 2013 9:52 am

      You probably get some migrants in the summer but being so far north your population probably isn’t as plentiful as it is here in the Midwest.


  3. readerbuzz / Jul 20 2013 9:27 am

    I don’t think we have any killdeer here, though we have lots of ponds and other kinds of shore. Maybe it’s too hot. Wish I knew more about birds. This one is quite the actress!

    Here’s my Saturday Snapshot.


    • Leslie / Jul 20 2013 9:48 am

      They’re permanent residents in the south. I don’t see them at ponds or the shore though. Usually they’re in muddy or grassy areas or along river banks. I’ve seen a few nesting along water retention ponds too. They’re probably just hiding from you!


  4. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jul 20 2013 9:42 am

    How funny they protect their nest with the wounded act….


    • Leslie / Jul 20 2013 9:44 am

      I would think that wouldn’t be very effective, but it must work because the birds aren’t endangered and there are a lot of them around.


  5. Elizabeth / Jul 20 2013 9:54 am

    Fascinating…thanks for information about how they protect their next. So interesting.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Saturday Snapshot


  6. laurelrainsnow / Jul 20 2013 10:04 am

    How clever of the birds to fake the broken wing….thanks for sharing the shots and the info. I learn so much about birds here!


  7. irene / Jul 20 2013 11:09 am

    What a clever little creature. Great adventures in birding.


  8. Suko / Jul 20 2013 12:52 pm

    I had not heard of this bird before. Wonderful pictures and info!


  9. BermudaOnion / Jul 20 2013 12:57 pm

    We have killdeer around here and were lucky enough to have babies in our yard a few years ago.


  10. Louise / Jul 20 2013 2:01 pm

    What a beautiful bird. I always learn so much from your weekend birding. I’d heard of killdeer, but never seen one of course. When I saw your first picture, I did wonder how that could possibly kill a deer so thanks for explaining.


  11. Ginny / Jul 20 2013 2:25 pm

    Wow, 71 species. I’m not sure I could name even half that number. Lovely photos.


  12. mdott922 / Jul 20 2013 2:50 pm

    Great pictures! I always call my daughter over when I read you SS posts so she can see the birds!


  13. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Jul 20 2013 9:41 pm

    Don’t think I have ever seen (or noticed them) here?? I just listened to the sound they make on the computer and that too is foreign to me.


    • Leslie / Jul 21 2013 12:43 pm

      Until I went on field trips with the bird club I had never seen one either. Now that I know their habitat I can spot them. Usually they are on the ground and blend in with the grasses.


  14. Paulita / Jul 20 2013 9:47 pm

    I’ve read about kildeer and their bluffs. What fun that you got to see it. Here’s Mine


  15. stacybuckeye / Jul 20 2013 10:33 pm

    So cool that you caught the killdeer in the act! Beautiful.


    • Leslie / Jul 21 2013 12:44 pm

      And it did distract me. I never did spot the nest.


  16. Susan / Jul 21 2013 6:46 am

    Neat that you got the killdeer’s distraction manuever! They are such interesting birds!


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