Article and photos by Charly Mann
This is a Killdeer looking for food along a dirt road I often walk down
The Killdeer is one of the most unusual and fun to observe birds in the world. First because it is a shorebird and looks very much like other shorebirds you would see at the ocean, but it usually lives and breeds far from water in pastures and meadows. Second even though it flies very well, it spends most of its time on the ground. Most of the time I see these guys they are sprinting around in some grass along a dirt road running a couple of feet then stopping to look around and then rushing off again. Because of this I call them the “Walking Bird”, even though they do resort to flight when they are frightened. They are also an especially handsome bird. They are brown on top and white underneath with two black bands across their breast. (Baby Killdeer have only one band). They look much larger than they are because of their long legs and tail. Killdeer also have a red rear end which is only visible when they are airborne.
This Killdeer is running around in some grass not far from Guthrie, Oklahoma
Killdeer build their nest on the ground often in a small depression of gravel along a country road. Their eggs are hard to distinguish from small pebbles. As soon as a baby Killdeer is born it starts out walking following its parents around for food. Baby Killdeer are unable to fly.
This Killdeer is enjoying an afternoon stroll in a grasslands area not far from Ponca City
The Killdeer has a long bill which it uses to probe the earth for insect larvae and worms.
This Killdeer was talking to me as I stood within fifteen feet of it for more than twenty minutes while it ran and walked around looking for food
Adult Killdeer have a unique scheme for protecting their young chicks and eggs. When they detect a predator they pretend to be injured and hold out one wing as if it has been broken and then begin to limp away at a rapid rate drawing away the potential intruder. When it has gotten the predator far enough away it miraculously recovers and takes flight.