Oct 03 2010
Until September 21 I’d never seen or heard a killdeer in my neighborhood but that evening, an hour after sunset, a killdeer called from the ballpark across from my house. Last night I heard a killdeer overhead at The Waterfront mall in Homestead.
What are they doing?
Killdeer are gregarious shorebirds who aren’t picky about habitat. They frequent gravel shores but also spend time on golf courses and parking lots. During migration they travel in flocks but when they land they don’t like to be too close to each other. Fifteen feet apart is about all they can stand before they aggressively push the other guy away.
When killdeer defend anything — even their personal space from other killdeer — they’re vocal about it. Birds of North America Online says: “In Mississippi, migrant flocks of 15–20 killdeer loaf in mall parking lots at night in September, chasing occasional insects on the asphalt under lights, flying in circles around the lights while calling loudly, and interacting on the ground to defend individual distances of about 5 meters.”
Perhaps that’s why their species name is “vociferous” — Charadrius vociferus — the noisy, vehement plover.
(photo courtesy of www.ShutterGlow.com. Click on the photo to see the original.)