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Killdeer are shorebirds, a type of  plover.Here they are more likely seen in fields. Killdeer are about the size of robins and are easily recognized by two dark bands across the breast. They run about the ground in a nervous fashion and, when disturbed, fly rapidly in circles. They constantly scream their name "Kill-dee, Kill-dee".   Killdeer feed in plowed fields and in areas of short grass. They eat worms, grubs, insects of all types, including many agricultural pests. In summer they eat enormous numbers of grasshoppers. These feeding habits make Killdeer extremely useful birds.   When threatened, the Killdeer is noted for performing the "broken wing" act. It flutters about, drags one wing, sometimes both wings, or rolls on the ground as if exhausted. In such ways, Killdeer  distract intruders, lead them away, and then get up and fly back their home sites.   

The broken wing dance

Killdeer begin nesting in early May. The nest is a shallow hollow with a few stones, wood chips or other debris around it. Killdeer nest in open areas where they have a view. They frequently nest in pastures, on grassy flats and in areas of gravel beside your driveway or on flat part of your roof. Often, four camouflaged eggs are laid.

The parent killdeer start sitting on the eggs to incubate them as soon as all the eggs have been laid. The killdeer embryos inside the first-laid three eggs do not start developing while the eggs are sitting out in the cold. But when they feel the warmth of the parent killdeer, all four killdeer embryos start developing at the same time. So even though the first-laid egg spends a longer time in the shell than the last-laid, all the killdeer chicks have the same development period. It takes 24 to 28 days of incubating for the chicks to hatch. Baby birds that hatch with their running shoes on are called precocial. Precocial means "ripened beforehand." (The word comes from the same Latin source as "precocious.") Other precocial birds besides killdeer are chickens, ducks, and quail. None of these precocial babies lies in the nest and gets waited on. Precocial birds stay in the egg twice as long as altricial birds, so they have more time to develop. A one-day-old killdeer chick is actually two weeks older than a one-day-old robin nestling. Although adult robins and killdeer are the same size, a killdeer's egg is twice as big as a robin's. There's more nourishment built into the killdeer egg, to sustain the embryo for its longer time in the shell.Baby killdeer come out running. They hatch with their eyes open, and as soon as their downy feathers dry, they start scurrying about, following their parents and searching the ground for something to eat. Newly-hatched killdeer can't fly, and they need their killdeer parents for protection and guidance, but they are a lot closer to independence than most baby birds.

Mommy and Daddy

To hear the Killdeer click here.

The Babies Have Arrived, 1, 2, 3, 4!!!