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by Jacob Crider
Following our recent prescribed burns at Creasey Mahan, Killdeers (Charadrius vociferus) have been setting up shop and calling conspicuously throughout the open areas of the preserve. A member of the Plover family (Charadriidae), these small shorebirds are the most common of Plovers in Kentucky and have a wide native range across the entire U.S, most of Canada, and south into Mexico and Central America. They are a year-round species in Kentucky but are most frequently observed during late winter and early spring when they start preparing to nest and lay eggs. They are robin-sized with a grayish-brown body, black-gray wings with white stripes, a rusty orange tail, bright red eyes, and two distinct black neck rings.
Killdeers are ground nesting birds and will create their nests on bare ground, short grasslands, and even on flat roofs. They dig up a shallow depression in the substrate, and surround their nests with little pebbles or sticks. Since a ground nest is exposed and can be easily reached by certain predators, birds like Killdeer have to get creative when protecting their young. Killdeer are known to exhibit an injury-feigning behavior where they act like they have an injured wing to lure predators away from their nest!
Feeding on mostly insect and invertebrates, Killdeer prefer grasslands, farmland, pastoral park settings, and wetlands to nest and feed. The name Killdeer arose from their light “Kill-deer” or “Fill-dee” calls, and they are not known to dispatch any of our deer friends. Come by CMNP to see these awesome birds while they are most abundant! Look for them near our recently burned fields, near our buildings, and in our fields and wetland habitats where they sometimes blend in with flocks of Robins and Flickers.

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