The Killdeer-Craziest Bird On The Farm

A Killdeer along the pond bank on August 1, 2013.

Hello everyone! I hope this post is finding you all well. Many birds come and go with the changing seasons. Some are quite comical to watch like the Greater Yellowlegs that like the pond. Summer brings birds that have migrated south for the winter then they return back here to nest. One of those birds is the Killdeer.

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) are plovers that seem to prefer open areas with short grass like pastures. Plovers are commonly shorebirds, and while the Killdeer do run around the pond at times, they still prefer the pasture.

 

I don’t really remember much about birds when I was a kid, but I vividly remember the Killdeer. Back then there were many more, maybe 20 or so, running around in the pasture. Perhaps when they arrive in the spring there are more because they are choosing mates and dividing up territory.

 

When you go out into the pasture, the Killdeer are running here and there like they have no clue where they are going. They make this shrill noise that almost hurts your ears.

Earlier in the summer, there were maybe 10 or so. Last time I paid attention, I could only spot two pair. The resident Red-Tailed Hawk may be one reason their numbers have dwindled.

 

As I was mowing the weeds down in the pasture on July 9, I was trying to watch out for possible Killdeer nests. They nest right on the ground and I always wondered what kept the cows from stepping on their eggs. As I was mowing in the lower part of the front pasture, I turned the corner and just happened to look at the ground on the left side of the tractor. Low and behold, there was a Killdeer doing her crazy dance maybe 3-4 feet from the tractor. I stopped the tractor and kind of yelled, “WHERE?” Yeah, I know, that sounds like the heat was getting to me talking to a crazy bird. But, she must have understood because she stood up and moved over and showed me her nest. So, I got off the tractor and marked the spot so I wouldn’t run over her eggs. It was definitely one of those times I wish I had my camera. How many times have I said that? It would have been a perfect shot! One thing I noticed was where she had laid her eggs… They are pointed side down right smack in the center of an old cow pile. For those of you who know anything about cows, you know they don’t eat the crass around where they… you know… poop. During the heat of the day, the eggs don’t need to be intubated because of the sun. Since they are on a cow pile, it probably absorbs heat.

Over the next week or so I went down to check on the eggs. They were still there but I never saw the mother sitting on the eggs. Then one day last week, they were gone. No trace of any shell like the chicks had hatched or anything.

 

Then Friday (July 20), when I came from the back pasture and was getting close to the barn, the Killdeer flew in front of me and started doing her “OH, I’m hurt” dance about 20 feet from the barn. This time I had my camera. 🙂 Hmmm… The only reason they do that is to lead you from their nest or their babies…

 

She squatted down where I could barely see her then she would stick her head up to see if I was coming. This went on until I got a little closer…

 

Then she got up and ran to another spot and repeated her ordeal.

 

They do this out in the pasture, too. (I hate to tell you, but I have spent some time following a Killdeer around in the pasture in the past trying to spot nests or their young until I would give up. Then they would fly over me laughing.) Anyway, after she thought she was far enough away and I wasn’t watching her, she stopped her act. I started looking in the taller grass close to where she had been while she was watching and shrieking from farther away. Like she was telling her kids to stay hidden. After a few minutes, I wondered if they would come out if I walked away like I gave up.

 

Well, it worked! After I walked away from the barn about 40 feet or so, I turned around and spotted two chicks. Just for fun, I went back up to where I saw them and they were completely hidden once again. They just completely vanished like they became invisible.

Earlier, on my way back from the back pasture with the cows, I spotted another bird I had never seen before.

 

I looked on the Missouri Department of Conservation website’s field guide and I think this bird is called the Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tryannus). they are good sized flycatchers measuring approximately 8 1/2″ from the tip of their bill to the end of their tail. According to the website, they arrive in Missouri around mid-April and stay until mid-August through September. They migrate to and from South America in large flocks. They primarily feed on wasps, beetles, grasshoppers, etc. I think I need about a million to eat the Japanese Beetles.

Well, that’s it for this post. I saw something weird yesterday while I was mowing but I am saving it for the next post… So, until then stay well, be safe, and stay positive. GET DIRTY!

29 comments on “The Killdeer-Craziest Bird On The Farm

  1. Jim R says:

    That’s a good story about the killdeer. I’ve enjoyed watching them too. We have some of those kingbirds around us. They’re really good Flyers interesting to watch. Thanks for the photos and the story. We are sitting in the Portland airport waiting for our flight back to Iowa trying to be patient and watch people. They can be almost as entertaining as killdeer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Jim! I know what you mean about watching people at the airport. Everyone is in a hurry to wait and continually making sure they have everything. Then when they get to where they are going they realize they forgot something. Have a safe and enjoyable trip back home. Give Melanie a hug. 🙂 Thanks for the comment as always! I’ll be visiting your blogs to see photos of your trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Killdeer are sometimes referred to as Pasture Plovers here. They are neat to watch especially when they have babies. I love to see the little ones cuddle up under their momma’s wings when it rains or gets chilly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. katechiconi says:

    We have Masked Lapwings, also members of the plover family, who behave in a very similar way. They’re noisy old birds, and can be quite aggressive and territorial. The males have a sort of ‘spur’ on the leading edge of their wings, and if they’re dive-bombing you and catch you with the spur it can draw blood. Seems displaying and being territorial are classic plover behaviours, together with laying their eggs directly on the ground without much by way of a nest. The Masked Lapwings have even been know to lay on gravel and blacktop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kate! Man, I’m glad we don’t have Masked Lapwings here. I will take the Killdeers screaming and leading me all over the pasture instead of the Lapwings any day. The only birds that dive bomb me are the Purple Martins. Usually, they don’t make contact although they have been close enough to feel their breeze. They also make a particular noise when they do that. The Wrens and Red-Wing Blackbirds throw their fits, too. What kind of sense can a bird make out of laying their eggs on the pavement? It seems they would have figured out the first rule of survival would be not to let their children play in the street. They lay their eggs right in traffic so they can get run over before they are even born? GEEZ! Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kate, I had to find out more about the Masked Lapwing. I watched several videos on YouTube. Check this one out…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmYAzb6J7Nk. I would hate to have a pair of these in the neighborhood. Thanks for telling me about this bird. 🙂

      Like

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    We have a type of plover here too, and it’s a mad bird with a terrible screeching call. It also lays eggs in bit of a nest on the ground and will attack you if you get too close.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vicki says:

    What a wonderful experience to spot the eggs and the chicks. I can well imagine doing the same thing as you and walking all over the pasture trying to spot the nest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Vicki! It is only by chance you will find their nest on purpose. The mother will lead you all over the pasture. It just so happened I spotted the female on her nest while I was mowing. If I hadn’t have noticed her, I could have easily ran over her nest on the next pass. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  6. Loved your tale on the Killdeer bird.. I know we have some who act like that to steer you away from their nest sites.. Wonderful photographs, and brilliant that you are so in tune with nature and so thoughtful.
    Wishing you well
    Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Littlesundog says:

    I love the killdeer. I observed a mother protect her eggs on our orchard lane one summer, and learned a lot. I did miss the hatching and fledge, since it may have occurred in the night or early morning hours. The more we observe the more we learn. I’ve also been able to dispel some “facts” given by biologists who have supposed knowledge about what browse and vegetation deer eat. I have observed them for years. I often wonder how many studies of our wildlife and plant life are accurate?

    I loved this post! You tickled me with your perception change – first and annoying bird, then having understanding why they do what they do. They have an annoying screech and are very distracting… and there is an important reason why. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Littlesundog! Watching the Killdeer is more enjoyable when you have learned ro respect and know why they behave as they do. Its all about survival and not because they are annoying birds. 🙂 We, like biologists, learn by observation and studying all the life around us. It’s not just about what the deer eat, but also the other life in the same area. Their eating habits change with the season and what is available at the time. Even the cows eat different plants and weeds when grass isn’t available. Deer move to different areas to find preferable food. We have to be open-minded when we observe nature and we really need to pay attention. If we fail to observe nature we may miss important changes we need to make for our own survival. We are all part of the big picture. Thanks for the comment as always!

      Liked by 1 person

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