Oct 03 2010


Published by at 8:33 am under Water and Shore

I know that killdeer are migrating because I've heard them calling after dark in unusual places. 

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.)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Vociferous”

  1. Patsyon 03 Oct 2010 at 10:03 am

    Very interesting to watch them feign an injury to lure you away from their “nests” or babies. I have actually seen them dragging a wing to make you think they are injured.

  2. John Englishon 03 Oct 2010 at 12:40 pm

    They also congregate on the bank of the Mon by the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank in Duquesne. It can be rather amusing watching a killdeer scold a Canadian goose.


  3. Kate St. Johnon 03 Oct 2010 at 6:11 pm

    I was out at Keystone State Park today (before the rain) and found 18 killdeer on the sand & the grass just about equally spaced. You should have heard the racket when two dogs ran down to the lake!

  4. Mary Ann Pikeon 04 Oct 2010 at 9:29 am

    I am surprised they are considered shorebirds when you find them lots of places that are nowhere near water. We used to have a pair that nested near us when we lived in Beaver county…we had about 1 and a half acres cleared around our house, and there was a school next to us that had at least 4 cleared acres around it, and the killdeer happily raised their family every year there, no water nearby. We used to see the “broken wing” ruse often, if we got too near the babies…it was fun to watch. And the baby killdeer running along in a line, following their parents was very cute.

  5. Bird Feederson 05 Oct 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Great article! Thanks for sharing! I once saw a number of these birds nesting on the perimeter of an airport. I approached one of the nest and was fortunate enough to observe the “broken wing” display, it was fascinating!

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