This may be the first time I’ve seen this shorebird, the Killdeer, actually along the shore. It’s usually golf courses or parking lots or road medians.
We arrived late this afternoon at our beach rental in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Little Lagoon behind, Gulf beach across the street in front, and quite close to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. I ran right out to the lagoon to take a few photos before dark.
It’s not breeding season but these two Killdeer were very flirty with each other.
A shorebird you can see without going to the beach, Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.
Great Blue Heron was chilling out.
Speaking of chilling, there were some dead fish (mullet?) on the beach. I think it is because there was a hard freeze here last night. The weather has been unusually cold all over the east coast.
They were chasing each other constantly.
Often seen in dry, flat landscapes, running and halting on the ground in search of insects and earthworms. Although the Killdeer is common around human habitation it is often shy, at first running away rather than flying. When a Killdeer stops to look at an intruder, it has a habit of bobbing up and down almost as if it had hiccupped. Near the nest, Killdeer distract predators by calling loudly, bobbing, and running away. Killdeer are some of the best-known practitioners of the broken-wing display, an attempt to lure predators away from a nest by feigning injury. Pairs of Killdeer tend to stay together for one to a few years.
Killdeer have the characteristic large, round head, large eye, and short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings.
Brownish-tan on top and white below. The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches.
They are members of the Plover and Lapwing family, Charadriidae.
Double band on the chest is distinctive, almost distinguished… if they weren’t so busy robbing and running and calling kill-deer, kill-deer!
John James Audubon…
The Kildeer is by most people called a “noisy bird and restless.” Now to me it is any thing but this, unless indeed when it is disturbed by the approach or appearance of its enemies, more particularly man, of whom indeed few wild birds are fond. Watch them from under some cover that completely conceals you, and you will see them peaceably and silently follow their avocations for hours. In this respect the Kildeer resembles the Lapwing of Europe, which is also called a restless and noisy bird, because men and dogs are ever in pursuit of the poor thing, which after all its vigilance often falls a prey to the sportsman, who condemns it merely because it endeavours to draw him from its nest or young.