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Apr 27, 2012

The great pretender

Photo by BarrytheBirder
Charadrius vociferus

I photographed this Killdeer near King City on Wednesday.   It was the first Killdeer I had seen this spring.   Normally, many Killdeer arrive on the breeding grounds early, in mid-March.   They peak in April.   Either I haven't been paying enough attention or perhaps I have been looking in the wrong places, but April 25th was a late sighting.   The second part of its scientific name (vociferus - Latin for loudly) is certainly appropriate.   It gives a loud, clear kill-DEEE, which it repeats endlessly, it seems.   I have called this bird 'the great pretender' in the heading at the top of this blog.   That is because of its brilliant strategy of feigning injury when threatened by would-be predators.   When its nest is approached, it hobbles away with wings dragging as if badly injured.   Predators are thus lured away from eggs or hatchlings and, at some distance, the Killdeer miraculously recovers and flies off.   The Killdeer is classified as a shorebird but for an 'mainlander' like me I'm used to seeing them in farm fields, meadows, golf courses, etc. - any short-grass open ground.  It ranges from coast-to-coast in North America and from Alaska and the Yukon as far south as coastal Peru.
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