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Bird of the Week: Killdeer

Though classified as a shorebird, this lanky-legged bird makes its summer home in fields, lawns, on golf courses and even parking lots. This migrant species has adapted well to human environments. Killdeer are ground-nesters and a male will choose a nesting site by scraping the ground into a bowl shape with his feet. Once eggs are laid in this barren area, killdeer will add vegetation and stones for material as time goes on. Killdeer parents both help in nest building, incubating the eggs, and are quite the actors when it comes to protecting their young. These birds have a behavioral defense act of pretending to have a broken-wing, crying out and hobbling a distance away from the nest to draw predators away from the eggs. Once hatched, killdeer babies are nearly ready to walk and feed on their own, much like young ducks and chickens. Juveniles look similar to adults in a mini version, with a brown-tan back and head, white chest, small stilt legs, and will grow into their two identifying black “necklaces” on their neck and breast. Keep an eye out for these quick darters along roadsides and in grassy areas, watching to see if they’ve spooked some insect snacks for themselves. Visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/killdeer to learn more and hear their calls. Happy birding!

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