Tag Archives: Killdeer

Fort Morgan

cormorant1

The nonchalant cormorant.

cormorant2

Looking north toward Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan, Alabama.

fort morgan

We drove from Gulf Shores out to Fort Morgan because we do love a nice peninsula. Breezy and chilly, but sunny.

platform

Oil rigs in the bay.

shrimp boats

Shrimp boats too.

cormorant3

Which way to the beach? More Double-crested Cormorants.

dogbeach1

There is a dog beach at Fort Morgan. Radar was happy about that. He loves the beach. We went on the beach across from our rental too, because it’s off season and nobody was around.

dogbeach2

Nothing like a good stick.

Sometimes it’s hard to get good bird photos when traveling with a dog, especially one shaped like a bit like a wolf. At least he (mostly) doesn’t chase birds. He prefers squirrels and balls.

bufflehead

Just offshore were 7 or 8 Bufflehead ducks, disappearing now and then under water. This is a male.

bufflehead2

This is a female.

A buoyant, large-headed duck that abruptly vanishes and resurfaces as it feeds, the tiny Bufflehead spends winters bobbing in bays, estuaries, reservoirs, and lakes. Males are striking black-and white from a distance. A closer look at the head shows glossy green and purple setting off the striking white patch. Females are a subdued gray-brown with a neat white patch on the cheek.

bufflehead3

Bufflehead chase.

birdsign

On land at Fort Morgan, an Amy-attracting sign.

killdeer1

The migrants included my old friends the Killdeer, bobbing, running, calling and flying…

killdeer2

Killdeer flies off.

butterbutt

And my other old friends the Yellow-rumped Warblers.

yellow-rumped warbler

Show us your butt!

Shorebirds along the shore

IMG_9358

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.

IMG_9325

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.

IMG_9337

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.

IMG_9368

Great Blue Heron was chilling out.

IMG_9388

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.

IMG_9377

Lovebirds?

They were chasing each other constantly.

IMG_9379

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.

IMG_9383

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.

IMG_9389

They are members of the Plover and Lapwing family, Charadriidae.

IMG_9392

Cold fish.

IMG_9394

Lagoon view.

IMG_9397

Double band on the chest is distinctive, almost distinguished… if they weren’t so busy robbing and running and calling kill-deer, kill-deer!

killdeer_audubon_0_full_width

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.

Birds at Lakeside Ranch STA

img_6408-2

Good morning, Lakeside Ranch STA (Stormwater Treatment Area).

I signed in at the gate with the president of Audubon of Martin County bright and early yesterday morning and joined a few other cars driving around here and there on the narrow roads on top of the dikes in the 2600 acres under the care of the South Florida Water Management District.

Lakeside Ranch STA is located on the northeast side of Lake Okeechobee, about 50 minutes from my home in Sewall’s Point.

img_6409-2

Great Blue Heron in the misty morn.

img_6410-2

Peaceful and pretty. Temps around 57 when I arrived at 7 a.m., climbing to 75 or so by the time I left at 10:30.

img_6424-2

Sandhill Crane flyby.

img_6425-2

Another birdwatcher.

IMG_6460-2.jpg

Great Egret and Great Blue Heron.

img_6531-2

Anhinga keeping an eye on me.

img_6477-2

Tri-colored Heron hunting for breakfast.

img_6486-2

Snowy Egret and  juvenile night heron.

IMG_6532-2.jpg

Little Blue Heron and Tricolored Heron.

img_6526-2

Rotten photo but I’ve been seeing these birds in Florida and didn’t know what they were. Audubon president helped me ID it as a Palm Warbler. “Yellow butt? Brown capped head? Wagging tail?”

The rusty-capped Palm Warbler can be most easily recognized by the tail-wagging habit that shows off its yellow undertail. It breeds in bogs and winters primarily in the southern United States and Caribbean.

img_6502-2

Voguing grackles. Or maybe males having a sing off? I am pretty sure these are Boat-tailed Grackles.

Boat-tailed Grackles are large, lanky songbirds with rounded crowns, long legs, and fairly long, pointed bills. Males have very long tails that make up almost half their body length and that they typically hold folded in a V-shape, like the keel of a boat.

Males are glossy black all over. Females are dark brown above and russet below, with a subtle face pattern made up of a pale eyebrow, dark cheek, and pale “mustache” stripe.

These scrappy blackbirds are supreme omnivores, feeding on everything from seeds and human food scraps to crustaceans scavenged from the shoreline.

Boat-tailed Grackles are a strictly coastal species through most of their range; however, they live across much of the Florida peninsula, often well away from the immediate coast.

img_6539-2

Is it a duck?

IMG_6446-2.jpg

Or a wading bird? Neither… it’s a Common Gallinule!

The Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile. Vocal and boldly marked with a brilliant red shield over the bill, the species can be quite conspicuous. It sometimes uses its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to moorhen species in the Old World.

img_6548-2

Red-winged Blackbird.

img_6480-2

Killdeer.

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.

img_6554-2

Let these dead trees be decorated with Anhingas!

img_6569-2

Aw, sweet. Two Great Blue Herons starting a nest in a cabbage palm.

img_6586-2

My first Eastern Meadowlark!

The sweet, lazy whistles of Eastern Meadowlarks waft over summer grasslands and farms in eastern North America. The birds themselves sing from fenceposts and telephone lines or stalk through the grasses, probing the ground for insects with their long, sharp bills. On the ground, their brown-and-black dappled upperparts camouflage the birds among dirt clods and dry grasses. But up on perches, they reveal bright-yellow underparts and a striking black chevron across the chest.

img_6592-2

Juvenile White Ibis strikes a pose.

img_6604-2

Cattle Egret, that chunky little white egret found near or away from water. Often seen (by me) on top of shrubs planted in medians.

img_6615-2

Anhinga draws attention to an important road sign.

img_6618-2

Great Blue Heron pose.

img_6635-2

Alligator smile.

img_6639-2

There were five gators in this one spot.

img_6597-2

View across a small canal to another birdwatcher’s car.

img_6647-2

Blackbird (grackle?) draws attention to this important sign.

img_6632-2

Cattle and cattle egrets, just past the edge of the STA.

img_6650-2

Sandhill Crane, maybe on top of the beginnings of a nest.

IMG_6662-2.jpg

Glossy Ibis.

A dark wading bird with a long, down-curved bill. Although the Glossy Ibis in North America lives primarily along the Atlantic Coast, it also can be found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

IMG_6668-2.jpg

Blurry pic because it was far away, but with important identifying features. I described this bird to the Audubon president when I got back to the gate and he said it was a Loggerhead Shrike. Another new bird!

The Loggerhead Shrike is a songbird with a raptor’s habits. A denizen of grasslands and other open habitats throughout much of North America, this masked black, white, and gray predator hunts from utility poles, fence posts and other conspicuous perches, preying on insects, birds, lizards, and small mammals. Lacking a raptor’s talons, Loggerhead Shrikes skewer their kills on thorns or barbed wire or wedge them into tight places for easy eating. Their numbers have dropped sharply in the last half-century.

At the end of January, I attended a couple of days of a local Audubon Field Academy. I am signed up next to do a day with raptors at a local wildlife rehab center, then a unit on migration at the end of March. More field trips are on the calendar too.

Meanwhile, back to fixing up this little old Florida concrete-block-and-stucco house. I am painting the last of the three bedrooms today before the wood floor installation guys arrive tomorrow.

Wind-up toy bird

killdeer

Killdeer spotted in a small marsh just south of Rye Harbor, east side Route 1A, yesterday around 5 p.m. during a get-out-of-the-house coastal drive after rain.

The Killdeer is the largest of the ringed plovers, and the only plover in its range with a double breast band. Killdeers have brown upperparts, white underparts, and orange rumps.

A bird of the spring and summer!

Killdeer are surprisingly unobtrusive even on green lawns, despite their warm tawny coloration. Look carefully over lawns, short-mown fields, and even parking lots, and listen for the far-carrying kill-deer. (When you hear this call, the bird may be in flight. Look for it circling you, flying stiffly on long, pointed wings. It may resemble an American Kestrel, at least until it lands on the ground and begins walking.) Though they’re often found on dry land, you should also look for them on the edges of freshwater ponds and muddy lagoons.

Killdeer

Killdeer are members of the plover family. I like the way their orange-rimmed eyes appear huge; they look like toy birds. Their movement on the ground accentuates the effect.

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.

More: The Precocious Killdeer

Baby killdeer always come out running.