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Killdeer.......the bird

2309 Views 13 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  bamataco
A couple of weeks ago, I was mowing a lawn that I've been mowing since spring. In one part, I noticed a couple of birds hanging out in the middle, staying near one spot. I got off the tractor and walked toward them, they of course skedaddled, but not too far. I looked closely where they seemed to stay closest to, and found the nest. It was just a palm-sized shallow place in the ground, lots of small pebbles. This portion of the lawn has a lot of exposed ground, very sandy soil. A pine thicket once stood here, and grass doesn't do as well as on the rest of the yard. There are no trees, nothing but grass within 75 -150 feet of the nest. The driveway is the closest thing to the nest, about 50 feet away.

I looked up the birds in a book, they were as I thought, killdeer. I can't get close by walking toward them, but if I'm on the tractor, I can get within a few feet, and they won't back off. I got these pictures today. It's cool, she will fan out her tail, drag a wing like she's hurt, and move away from the nest, hoping you'll follow her. If you get really close to the nest, she comes right up, doing her screeching call and trying to draw your attention away from the nest.

I have left a 50 foot radius buffer zone around the nest, letting the grass grow up, to help conceal the nest. You can get within 5 feet of it and never see the eggs, they blend in so well. After 3 weeks, the eggs still have not hatched. Killdeer chicks hatch and are able to follow the parent immediately and forage for insects, rather than be nest-bound and helpless like most other birds.

1st picture is the female on the nest, see if you can pick her out. 2nd picture is the nest and three eggs, and the 3rd and 4th pics are the female, (I suppose), but the male has the same markings. Some of the references say that some species of this bird, the female will lay her eggs and then abandon the nest to the male, who sits on the eggs, hatches them, and raises the chicks. The female goes off and mates with another male. I don't think this is one of those species. Killdeer are a variety of plover, which are small wading birds, although they may nest far from water, like these did.


1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Wow, thats a really cool story and some great pictures, thanks for sharing!
Nice pics. Thanks for sharing.
Wow, awesome pictures! We have some killdeer around here, and they pull the same trick, trying to distract you from the nest with the wing dragging thing, then when they get you far enough away from the nest, they fly away like nothing :ROF Smart birds, I'll give them that.
:congrats: Great story and pics ! :thanku: for sharing .
Yup, the parent will run away, feigning a broken wing to get you away from the nest. Now you know that means a nest is nearby. We had tons of them in Maryland where I grew up.
Great recordings of killdeer calls:

Scroll down to the sound bars and click on "Play" icon.
Hi KHodges ,

I even have the Killdeer Birds up here in NW , IN. , they like to hang out in and
around my garden ...

we get tons of them here too. my wife once asked me why i was missing cutting so many spots and i told here it was killdeer nests.

the really amazing thing is tha twithin hours of hatching they leave that nest and never return.
I just came in from doing farm chores. It is late and this was a nice story to the end of a hard day.
Thanks for posting the pictures. Nice that you stopped and took a look. My wife loves to watch birds. They are beautiful. I remember when I was about 4 or 5 here on the farm. I was visiting my grand parents. There are huge oak trees that you need a ladder to get to the crotch of the tree. They were planted back around the Civil War Days. I got to see my first Robin's nest and eggs in the tree in the barn yard. Things like that you never forget.
Very nice story. Enjoyed reading it. Nice of you to leave them some buffer zone around their nest.
Thanks and great story. Now I know what the birds are I have out in the field in the back. slkpk
the really amazing thing is that within hours of hatching they leave that nest and never return.

I read up on these guys a little. Because they usually nest in exposed areas, nature gives them a little help. Killdeer eggs are much larger than similar sized birds' eggs, to provide more nutrients to the chick inside. They incubate longer than other birds also, and when they hatch, the chicks are more developed. It compared the killdeer to a robin, in the article, said the killdeer was more than two weeks "older" in development when they hatched than the robin was. Killdeer chicks can immediately walk and run to keep up with the mother, and are able to forage for food (primarily insects), rather than depend on the mother to bring it to them. This way, there aren't any helpless chicks left in an exposed nest while the mother is out looking for food.

I haven't seen but one of the killdeer adults the last time I was there. I go back on Monday to mow again, I'm hoping the egss have hatched by then, and will look for the chicks. I want to get some more pictures if possible.
Great story thanks for sharing it with us.
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