Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bird of the Day: Killdeer in the Pasture and the West Campus

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is one of the most distinctive and common birds I see out in the pastures near my house, along the irrigation canals, and on the West Campus of my school. They are a member of the Plover family, but given the arid nature of our valley, they are often a long way away from water.
I most often see them in the pasture among the livestock, or on gravel parking areas on our west campus. Sometimes they ignore me as I walk by and other times they walk ahead, complaining the whole way.
I just love their huge orange-rimmed eyes!
They build nests on the ground, which seems kind of precarious, but the birds are masters of distraction when predators come around. They do the "broken-wing" ploy better than just about any other bird.
The birds are abundant across the country, and do well in areas preempted by humans, so they are not considered endangered in any particular way, though their populations have declined by 30% or so in the last forty years.
Their distinctive call (a "kill-deer" sound) and their erratic movements make them among the most watchable birds I see when I am out walking. I think of them as one of the clowns of the avian world, but that's just me anthropomorphizing. Mostly, they are just beautiful birds.

The top picture was from yesterday, but the rest are collected from the archives of the last year from when I first started seriously photographing birds.

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