Thursday, March 17, 2016
It’s a sure sign of spring now that the killdeer have returned. They are a large, double-banded plover that screams its name across farm fields and other grass and dirt covered habitats. If you see an orange-tailed, stripe-winged bird calling kill-deee, kill-deee, you can be assured that it’s this plover. Many killdeer were shot during the late 1800’s, along with a wide range of other shorebirds. These species are now protected from harm by federal and state laws. On its white breast, two black bands stand out. Killdeer are wet-sand brown above and clear white below, with white around the front of the face and eye. A farmer’s friend, the killdeer spends its foraging time searching for beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and other insects. Crayfish centipedes, spiders and other invertebrates are also eaten as well as some seeds. There will be more on the killdeer, since they are so interesting Efrain and Barbara Rivera, your hosts at Songbird Prairie, want to keep you informed of the beauty of nature here at the Prairie in Valparaiso, Indiana. We have blogged this near the Dunes National Lakeshore. Come and leave your footprints in the sand.
Unlike most other plovers, killdeer often forage or nest far from water. You may find them at ball fields, airport runways, pastures, farm fields as well as on mudflats. They are found through North America, but northern birds head south for the winter. During the summer, you will find them at the Dunes National Lakeshore and Songbird Prairie, our Valparaiso Inn and Spa near Valparaiso University. A simple scrape in the dirt or gravel will do for a killdeer pair, although they sometimes add embellishments, such as a lining of pebbles, grass or other small materials. Females lay three to five blotched eggs, which both parents incubate for just less than a month. Nesting in exposed habitats, killdeer rely on camouflage and deception to keep their eggs and chicks safe. If an intruder approaches the nest, an adult killdeer may feign injury, dragging a wing as if it is broken and exposing it’s bright tail; then lure the person or predator away from the nest. Adults watch over their hatchlings, little puffballs that can run and find food by themselves shortly after hatching. They fly before they reach 1 month. Come to Songbird Prairie B&B for a Chicago romantic getaway, just 45 minutes away. Hear the cry of the Killdeer, come away for that Romantic Getaway.
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