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Brooklyn Bird Watch: March 24

The Killdeer. Scientific Name: Charadrius vociferus

March 24, 2023 Joseph Palmer
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Today Brooklyn Bird Watch returns to the Eagle with a photo of the Killdeer, another excellent Heather Wolf photo shot in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Killdeer is considered a shorebird and is part of the family of birds called “Plovers,” described by the National Audubon Society as short-billed gregarious wading birds, typically found along shorelines and sometimes they frequent grasslands, tundra, and even mountains.

Killdeers have two thick black bands across their white chest feathers, with the top band laying sort of like a necklace. Their dark brown eyes have small bright orange circles around them. Their plumage, from the back of the neck all the way to the tail, is a mocha color with slight variations of light and dark. They have long wings and tails, short necks, straight bills, and moderately long legs.

The Killdeer moves swiftly on the ground, one of those shorebirds you may have seen scampering along the water’s edge getting out of the way of beach goers. These shorebirds can be just as comfortable inland, far away from the water’s edge. They have been known to nest on roofs and lawns. They often just lay their eggs on the ground where the beige and dark spotted eggs will be effectively camouflaged.

As The Cornell Lab of Ornithology explains, the nest is created with a “scrape,” which is a shallow depression scratched in the ground where the ground slightly rises. The Killdeer will create several “scrapes” near the nest and sit on one of these “imaginary nests” in order to confuse a potential predator.

They also do something called the “broken-wing act” (aka “false brooding”) to lure predators from the nest. People have reported being fooled by this “broken-wing tactic,” thinking they might help the bird, contrary to what a predator will have in mind, only to discover the bird was faking it.

The Killdeer has a conservation rating of low concern and is considered a “successful” shorebird because of its fondness for and ability to adapt to modified human habitats, and a willingness to nest close to people. Being so close to people can be precarious for the bird but that hasn’t caused the Killdeer species to become endangered in any way.

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