Friday, September 10, 2010

Shakespeare in the Park.

One of the most common shorebirds found in North America is the killdeer. These plovers are often found away from water at common places that people inhabit, such at golf courses, parks, yards and dirt roads. Despite their name these birds are quite passive and are not known for killing deer or any other large mammals. The name killdeer comes from their piercing call which, if you use you imagination just slightly, sounds like the words kill deer.
Even though killdeer may be spotted quite commonly they do have a special talent which make them anything but common. The killdeer is a consummate actor. When the killdeers nest is threatened by a predator the killdeer will put on an act worthy of an Oscar. As you may be able to tell by the pics above, the killdeer will feign having an injured wing to lure predators away from its nest. The instincts of the predator will be to go after the easy injured prey, however once the predator has followed the killdeer far enough away for the nest to be safe the killdeer will make a miraculous recovery and fly away, wings as good as new.
As a ground nester the killdeer has more to worry about then just predators. Often large ungulates, hoofed mammals, will threaten a nest that happens to be in their path. The killdeer's normal injured decoy act is not effective against these walking bulldozers. So instead the killdeer will fluff up its feathers, to make itself look as large a possible, and charge at the beast with its tail over its head, hoping that this bluff charge will change the behemoths trajectory.
After the killdeer chicks hatch they are able to run almost immediately. This takes some of the pressure off of the thespian parents, since the chicks can run and hide when danger is near.


Eds said...

A great shot! Love it.:)

Slugyard said...

Nice shots- I'll never forget the first time a killdeer tricked me. I was impressed!