Bird of the Week

Posted Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the killdeer.

Their sharply pitched call sounds out the name given to this widespread member of our shorebird community, the killdeer. The largest member of the plover family, killdeer are medium-sized, about 10 inches tall, with a wingspan of up to 18 inches. Their wings and back are a brownish color, with a white underside. Two dark bib-like bands encircle their neck and chest below a rounded head, with a third dark band above their eyes. They stand on flesh-colored legs.

Found across North America during the warmer seasons, they frequent open upland areas, marshlands and shorelines, where they feed on insects and similar small prey. In spring and summer months, they lay four to six eggs in shallow, gravel-lined nests found along gravel pathways, in pastures, playgrounds or agricultural fields. Even though the nests may not be very well hidden, the buff-colored, black-speckled eggs are

well camouflaged. If intruders come near a killdeer nest, the defending parent will lure them away by feigning a broken wing, dancing about and letting out a distress-type call until the intruder is drawn a safe distance away from the nest. Although killdeer are seemingly numerous across North America, breeding bird surveys reveal a marked decline in numbers since the late 1960s. This is certainly a distinctive and magnificent bird that we should treasure and protect.

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