Killdeer | Life Histories of North American Birds | A.C. Bent
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Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds
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Charadrius vociferus

Contributed by Charles Wendell Townsend
[Published in 1929: Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 146 (Part 2): 202-217]

It may be said of the killdeer that it is probably the most widely distributed and best known of all our shore birds. Unlike most of the group, it is not confined to the borders of lakes and of the sea but is found in meadows, pastures, and dry uplands often many miles from water. Unlike, also, the majority of our shore birds, its sojourn here is not limited to the migration periods, for it breeds and winters throughout a large portion of the United States. It is not of a retiring disposition, and it often makes its presence known by loud calls and cries, to which it owes both its common scientific names--killdeer and vociferus. Its strikingly marked and handsome plumage makes it very conspicuous when it is in motion, as is nearly always the case. In all these respects it resembles the European lapwing, a resemblance to which both Wilson and Audubon called attention. Wilson (1832) says that "this restless and noisy bird is known to almost every inhabitant of the United States."

During the latter part of the last century and early in this persecution by shooting brought down the numbers of the killdeer so that in certain parts of the country where it formerly bred it became extremely rare. Thus, Forbush (1925) says:

The killdeer was once a common breeding bird in New England. Early in the present century it became so reduced in numbers that it was believed to have been practically exterminated as a breeding species. . . . Legislation protecting it perpetually has resulted in a gradual increase of the species which is now nesting locally but not uncommonly in the coastal region and river valleys of southern New England.

Other evidence of a similar nature is that of W. J. Brown (1916), who says: "Ten years ago the killdeer was a rare summer resident in the Province of Quebec. During the past five seasons the bird has become very numerous and is now a common breeder."

The killdeer is one of the most beneficial birds; it is a delight to the eye as it runs along the field or swiftly flies and skims the ground, and its familiar calls are pleasing. Long may it flourish unharmed by man!

Spring.--The migration of the killdeer is not as marked as is that of other shore birds whose winter station is far removed from the summer breeding grounds, for it breeds in many places where it winters. As a spring migrant it is one of the earliest of shore birds; indeed, there are few land birds that precede it, coming generally in small scattered flocks, which are augmented if the birds loiter on the way. Prof. William Rowan writes of its migration at Edmonton, Alberta:

It is the first wader to come north in the spring and the last to go south in the fall. It may arrive as early as the middle of March and stay till the middle of November. These are remarkable dates for a shore bird in this country, since the lakes remain frozen as a rule till the end of April and exceptionally right into May. Even the rivers may remain solid till the middle of April.

Lynds Jones says that the killdeer, robin, and bluebird arrive about the same time in Ohio. M. P. Skinner writes of the killdeer in the Yellowstone Park that--

Usually this bird arrives on warm mornings, but on one occasion they came on a morning when the thermometer registered below zero, but a few hours later at 10 o'clock there was a sudden change and the temperature shot up above 40 F.

The killdeers migrate by day and also by night, their calls proclaiming them during the darkness.

Courtship.--The most noticeable courtship performances of the killdeer are those that take place in the air--the nuptial flight--but those that occur on the ground, although less often seen, are also spectacular.

Of the courtship in the air Dwight Isely (1912) says that in Kansas "during the first month or six weeks after their arrival killdeers seem to spend a large part of their time in courtship. The male will fly back and forth over a field giving its cry sometimes for over an hour without intermission."

Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says of the bird near Charleston: "During very cold weather the killdeer rises several hundred yards in the air, hovering on almost motionless wings and uttering its far-reaching notes. I have known a pair to remain in the heavens for fully an hour during the coldest weather." M. P. Skinner of Yellowstone Park writes: "Although the killdeer is not a song bird I have heard some quite musical notes and even tuneful sequences from him. On the 4th of April one was heard singing while flying low in a circle over the nesting ground, and the performance was strongly suggestive of a nuptial flight song."

S. F. Rathbun of Seattle has communicated the following interesting account of his observations on the subject:

The evolutions were participated in by both birds of the pair that I watched on several occasions, and, as my knowledge goes, very early in spring prior to nesting. At this time these birds were evidently mated. As they fed about the margin of a small pond, one invariably following the other, suddenly the bird in the lead would spring into the air and mount upwards by a succession of wide, sweeping spirals, with its mate in pursuit constantly uttering its notes in a short and hurried manner. Higher and higher was the flight, but restricted over the certain area of the pond until both disappeared from one's vision, although the note continued to be faintly heard. As I continued to watch, the birds' cry ceased and down from the sky I first noted a speck falling, then both came into plain sight, one following the other, and then both alighted. This descent was as quickly made as if the birds fell out of the ether. After alighting the former actions were again indulged in, and shortly after the high flight was again made. These actions were repeated several times during my stay of over two hours in the vicinity.

From these reports it is evident that the courtship flight is performed in various ways, and, as Audubon (1840) says, "It skims quite low over the ground, or plays at a great height in the air, particularly during the love season, when you may see these birds performing all sorts of evolutions on the wing."

Of courtship display on the ground Theed Pearse (1924) writes:

On two occasions that I saw one getting up he ran a short distance and then went through what looked like a sexual display. Crouching on the ground and leaning toward one side with wings lowered and then opening the tail in fan shape over the back so that the cinnamon tail coverts came conspicuously into view, at the same time uttering a trilling note.

Aretas Saunders (1926) thus describes the display:

Two birds would crouch side by side but facing in opposite directions. Then they would droop the tips of the wings so that they exposed the ochraceous patch of the lower back, spread the tail, and tip the breast forward, slowly lifting the wing tips till the came way above the back, but never covered it from view. All the while they kept up a continual call, the long-trilled note 't-r-r-r-r-rrrrr.' The displaying birds would often begin the performance or end it with a little fighting.

Ira N. Gabrielson (1922) reports a case where--

the male had taken his station some distance from the female and at intervals whirled rapidly about, uttering a curious stuttering note as he did so. Every few seconds the female advanced a few steps toward the male, but when he stopped to observe the effect of this display she quickly turned her back and appeared perfectly indifferent. This was repeated several times until the female suddenly flew away.

This behavior of the female is very characteristic and common in avian, as well as in other, courtship. In whirling about, the brown tail coverts must show prominently and the "stuttering note" may be another term for the "trilling note" used by other writers.

Nesting.--The killdeer nests in the open, generally in a situation that gives the bird on the nest an extended view. The nest may be close to water--river, lake, or pond, more often than the sea--but it is generally in fields a few feet to several hundred yards or even a mile or two from water. Pastures, meadows, cultivated fields, and bare gravelly ground are favorite nesting places for this bird. Gravel roads and the spaces between the ties of a railroad and even a graveled roof have all been chosen by this bird for laying its eggs.

As a rule, the ground is slightly hollowed out for the eggs and a few chips of stone, wood, or weed stalks are placed in and about the hollow. Within narrow bounds there is considerable variation, and I have here set down some of the numerous nests described. Ira N. Gabrielson (1922) says:

In this region (Oregon) the favorite nesting place was at the base of a hill of corn. As usual, little or no attempt was made to build a nest--a few pebbles and bits of corn husks being the usual type. This material is seldom concentrated into a nest but is scattered over an area of 1 or more square feet, the eggs being deposited on the ground at some point within this area. . . . A rather unusual nest was found. It was placed in a small depression and carefully lined with shredded corn husks.

Harold C. Bryant (1914) reports in Merced County, Calif.:

Another nest found May 15 was unique in the fact that it was placed in a small grassy knoll surrounded by water, and that the cavity was well lined with short stems of devil grass.

J. M. Bates (1916) says of nests found in Nebraska:

The dirt is scooped out the size of my hand and is laid with thin, flat scraps of magnesian sand shale averaging an inch long. While a few dead stems lie with the stones, there is no appearance of design in their presence.

Charles R. Stockard (1905) says of the killdeer in Mississippi:

The eggs are never hidden in the grass or weeds but are placed in slight depressions on the bare ground or on short grass turf. The saucerlike depression of a nest has scattered in it bits of shells, small pebbles, short pieces of weeds or sticks, and often small bits of crayfish armor. This rubbish is never arranged so as to form a real nest, since only a few bits of it are scattered in the depression.

M. P. Skinner writes as follows of this bird nesting in the Yellowstone National Park:

All the nests I have found were on high, dry land, although never more than two or three hundred yards from water, while some were within 20 feet of it. One nest was in a depression in the meadow grass, but not otherwise lined or showing any construction. All the other nests were on knolls or ridges, either on gravel soil or on gray formation; they were in depressions varying from a small saucer-shaped hollow to one that was 2 inches deep by 3 inches in diameter; and in each case the birds appear to have taken possession of a previous hollow, although possibly deepening and otherwise forming it to their purpose. All nests were unlined, although one had a few sprays of sage and phlox around the edge and another had a few shreds of dried and bleached wood scattered about.

John G. Tyler (1913), writing of the nests in Fresno district, California, says:

A typical nest throughout the cultivated sections is composed of a handful of white pebbles about the size of peas and very uniform in size, mixed with an equal number of dry shells of melon seeds of the previous year. Frequently a few dry, broken-up pieces of melon stems are used also, the whole being spread out over a space the size of a saucer, with the eggs resting in the center. . . . On the summer-fallow fields only a few dry grass blades line the place where the eggs rest, while around the ponds of the west side, the eggs generally lie half covered in the powdered alkali dust without a scrap of nest lining.

W. J. Brown (1916) speaks of finding many attempts at excavating nests in the ground not far from the real nest. He suggests they may be decoy nests. Mrs. Henry W. Nelson (1900) reports a case where the eggs were laid in the bare gravel driveway and were moved by the gardener to the edge of the turf out of the way of carriages. The bird continued to incubate. W. Lee Chambers (1901) relates the case of a killdeer's nest between the ties on a used railroad track; F. W. Aldrich, of one between double tracks of a well-used railroad, and notes of a similar case to the latter have been sent by F. A. E. Starr.

Gayle Pickwell (1925) found near Lincoln, Nebr., the nest of a killdeer in a rubbish heap of broken glass, old bottles, and other material with which the dark mottled eggs harmonized so closely in color that they were invisible until closely approached. In fact killdeers' eggs are so protectively colored for the usual surroundings that the instinct of nest concealment by furtive abandonment is exhibited by the killdeer as in the case of most shore birds.

The most unusual case of the nesting of the killdeer is that observed by Mr. Pickwell (1925) in the same locality on the gently sloping tarred and graveled roof of a race-track grandstand, some 50 feet above the ground. The eggs were laid in a slight cup-shaped depression among the crushed stones. Close observation showed that the relative position of the eggs in the nest was changed daily between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., and it was not unusual to find them with their points away from the center of the nest. The young were found on the ground near the building while still but feeble walkers. In what manner the old ones transferred them from the roof was not observed.

Eggs.--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The number of eggs in a set is almost always four, but five and three have been found. Mr. Pickwell (1925) says the roof-nesting killdeer "laid at least three clutches of eggs during the season extending from early April to the last of June, and she may have raised two broods." The eggs are ovate pyriform in shape, usually quite pointed, and they have no gloss. The ground colors vary from "light buff" or "cream color" to "cartridge buff" or "ivory yellow." They are irregularly spotted, blotched, or scrawled, often quite boldly, with blackish brown or black; some eggs have "sepia" blotches and some a few underlying spots of "pale drab gray." The measurements of 92 eggs average 36.3 by 26.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 41.5 by 27, 39.5 by 28 and 33 by 25 millimeters.]

Young.--The incubation period according to observations of J. A. Spurrell (1917) is from 24 to 25 days; according to Ira N. Gabrielson (1922) it is 25 days. J. M. Bates (1916) found it to be 26 days and Althea R. Sherman (1916) found that 28 days elapsed between the laying of the last egg and hatching.

Both sexes incubate (F. L. Burns, 1915), and both take care of the young. Robert B. Rockwell (1912) relates the following:

"Mr. [L. J.] Hersey was fortunate enough to see one set of eggs hatch. He says the parent birds carried every bit of shell away from the nest within two hours after the hatching." As soon as the moisture has dried from the down, the young are on their feet and leave the nest and the parents often lead them to the nearest water. They bob and call at an early age. Althea R. Sherman (1916) had watched a nest very closely from the beginning, but she says of the young: "So protective was their coloration, so adroit was parental management that they were not seen after leaving the nest until they had attained the size of adult house sparrows." The young often escape notice by lying motionless on the ground. At such times they may sometimes be picked up without showing signs of life.

Both parents play the usual wounded-bird act to beguile the intruder from the eggs or young. The following detailed account of Ira N. Gabrielson (1922) is worth giving here:

It is impossible to approach the nest on foot without alarming one or other of the birds, as one was always on guard some distance away. At the appearance of a person walking, the one on guard would fly in a circle about the nest, giving the alarm, at the first note of which the one on the nest ran rapidly until some distance away and then took wing to join its mate in circling about the intruder. A man ploughing corn was viewed with absolute indifference by both birds, the team often passing down the row next to the nest without disturbing the sitting bird. At an alarm, however, both birds flew about the field unless the intruder persisted in approaching the nest. In such a case one of the birds dropped to the ground near the person, invariably on the side away from the nest, and fluttered about apparently in the greatest distress. The attitude most frequently assumed was as follows: one wing was held extended over the back, the other beat wildly in the dust, the tail feathers were spread and the bird lay flat on the ground, constantly giving a wild alarm note. This performance continued until the observer came very near when the bird would rise and run along the ground in a normal manner or at most with one wing dragging slightly as long as pursuit was continued. If the observer turned back toward the nest, however, these actions were immediately repeated. When the parents had succeeded in luring the intruder about 100 yards, they seemed satisfied and flew away.

M. P. Skinner found that when he scared one bird from the nest, the mate was apt to steal around behind him and take its place on the nest. He says that:

In addition to their broken-wing tactics, both of the killdeer at times would pretend to brood anywhere on the foundation, evidently to lead me to think that that was where their nest was. . . . On one occasion I found an adult with one young about four days old. The youngster ran under the old one and into its feathers; then the old bird squatted down, covering it. Just then I saw the other bird come running and exchange with the first parent, nestling down over the youngster.

While the broken wing tactics are used by the birds for man, dogs, and other predatory animals, in order to draw them away from the eggs or young, quite different tactics are used for browsing animals that might step on them. Thus Howard Lacey (1911) noticed that a flock of driven goats divided. "I walked up to the place expecting to find a rattlesnake, and found instead a killdeer standing over her eggs with upspread wings and scolding vigorously." Norman Criddle (1908) writes "If the danger came from a cow or horse, the tactics were changed and the birds with both wings and feathers spread out would run into the animal's face, and so by startling it drive the intruder away." This habit of scaring away a browsing animal probably accounts for the following experiences related by M. P. Skinner. The change to the broken-wing tactics appears to show great discernment and intelligence on the part of the bird.

Twice when riding near two different unsuspected nests, the birds got up with startled cries and faced me with their tails spread horizontally and quivering, although I was on horseback and towered high above them. After a few moments they made off with pretended broken wings, limping, falling down, and fluttering.

Aretas A. Saunders (1926) observed a parent very zealous in the care of its young:

This brood of young was accompanied by a parent. They occupied a certain section of the shore of the pond, where the young hid beneath the rushes when danger approached, and ran over the mud flats at other times. The parent remained near, and drove all other birds from the vicinity. While shore birds and marsh birds were abundant around the Mill Pond, at this point they kept away because of the parent killdeer. The parent was extremely belligerent, and I watched it attack other killdeers, yellowlegs, spotted sandpipers, soras, and song sparrows that happened to wander in the vicinity. All birds seemed glad to leave the vicinity.

Plumages.--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The most distinctive feature of the downy young killdeer is the long, downy tail, black above and elsewhere barred with "pinkish buff" and black, with long, hair-like buffy down below protruding beyond the rest of the tail; the forehead, chin, throat, a ring around the neck and the under parts are pure white, except for a tinge of pinkish buff in the center of the forehead; a broad, black strip above the forehead extends around the crown to the occiput; a black stripe extends from the lores, below the eyes to the occiput; there is a broad black stripe entirely around the neck, below the white; the crown, auriculars, back and inner half of the wings are grizzled "vinaceous buff" and dusky; there is a black space in the center of the back and a black band across the wing between the grizzled inner half and the white distal half.

The juvenal plumage is similar to that of the adult, but the head markings are less distinct; the feathers of the nape are tipped with "amber brown" and those of the back, scapulars, wing coverts and tertials are more or less broadly tipped or edged with the same, more broadly on the scapulars and wing coverts and more narrowly on the upper back and tertials; the intermediate white band on the breast is always more or less suffused with brownish.

The postjuvenal molt is apparently very limited and the first winter plumage is largely the juvenal plumage modified by wear. It is much like the adult except for the worn and faded edgings of the wing coverts, and some of the scapulars and tertials and the tail, which are retained. At the first prenuptial molt, which may take place from February to June, the plumage becomes practically adult.]

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt, mainly in August and September, and a partial prenuptial molt of the body plumage in early spring. Nuptial and winter plumages are practically alike.

Food.--The killdeer is man's friend. It consumes great quantities of insect pests. The most complete study of its food by examination of stomachs has been made by W. L. McAtee (1912) who sums up as follows:

"In all 97.72 percent of the killdeer's food is composed of insects and other animal matter. The bird preys upon many of the worst crop pests and is a valuable economic factor." Of this large proportion he finds that beetles constitute 37.06 percent; other insects--grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, bugs, caddis flies, dragon flies, and two-winged flies, 39.54 percent; other invertebrates--centipedes, spiders, ticks, oyster worms, earthworms, snails, crabs, crawfish, and other crustaceans, 21.12 percent. The 2.28 percent of vegetable matter is chiefly made up of weed seeds such as button weed, smart weed, foxtail grass, and nightshade. He found that various kinds of weevils were eaten such as those of alfalfa, cotton boll, clover, rice, white pine, etc. In a single stomach he counted 41 alfalfa weevils.

Harold C. Bryant (1914a), during an outbreak of grasshoppers in California, found that the contents of one stomach was 100 percent grasshoppers, and he estimated that each killdeer averaged 53 grasshoppers daily. Arthur H. Howell (1906) has found that the killdeer is among the most important of the birds that eat the cotton boll weevil. Samuel Aughey (1878) found 258 locusts and 190 other insects in the stomachs of nine birds taken in Nebraska. E. R. Kalmbach (1914) found in the stomach of a killdeer taken in a western alfalfa field 316 weevils; in another 383. C. W. Nash (1909) has found the stomachs of killdeers taken in orchards completely filled with weevils. E. R. Kalmbach (1914) has also found May beetles both in adult and grub form in the stomachs, wireworms, and insects that attack sugar cane, corn, carrots, grape vine, sweet potato, tobacco, and sugar beets. Caterpillars, he found to be a favorite article of diet, also grasshoppers and crickets, crane flies and their larvae. One stomach contained hundreds of larvae of the salt marsh mosquito. He adds:

The killdeer thus befriends man, but it does something also for the domestic animals, not only by eating horseflies and mosquitoes, as just mentioned, but also by preying on ticks, including the American fever or cattle tick, which has caused such enormous losses in some parts of the South.

Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says: "This species is very partial to fields which are being ploughed, and at this time they are always very tame, following each furrow as soon as it is turned over in order to secure the worms which are exposed." I have watched a killdeer in a ploughed field swallowing a large earthworm. Several strenuous gulps were needed before the act was accomplished.

Behavior.--The interesting behavior of this bird during courtship and the care of the eggs and young has already been detailed under the appropriate headings. In general it may be said that the killdeer has the usual plover habits when feeding of alternately running and then standing still, as if to listen or look, always with head up, and of dabbing suddenly at the ground for its food. Like some other species of plover, it occasionally bobs or "teeters" in a nervous manner. This varies from a slight bob of the head, which is first hitched up and then brought down, to a bob combined with a tilting up and down of the whole body on the hips. In swift running they excel, and this serves them to good purpose in the pursuit of insects.

M. P. Skinner writes: "When they get out on bare ground their speed is really astonishing. I have had them run along the road ahead of my horse for quite a distance." In plover fashion and unlike sandpipers, the killdeer in feeding does not keep in a compact flock but spreads out irregularly. John F. Ferry (1908) writes: "A curious sight was that of numbers of these birds scattered about the lawns at Leland Stanford University while the sprinklers were in operation. This recalled the robins on the lawns of eastern states."

Sometimes a number fairly close together may be found crouching on the sand or gravel asleep, or they may sleep standing, often on one foot. One or more are awake, however, watching, all from time to time open their eyes and look about. Notwithstanding their striking coloration, one may walk almost to a flock under these circumstances without noticing them. The "ruptive" marks about the head and neck break the continuity of the surface and the bird is not recognized as such.

The flight of the killdeer is rapid, generally close to the ground when the bird is on the lookout for food, but at other times, especially in courtship, as stated above, the flight may be at a great height. They usually fly about singly in a wavering and erratic manner, but sometimes in considerable flocks. Widely scattered birds when startled usually unite into a compact flock and fly away together. W. L. Dawson (1923) says: "I have seen flocks of 50 killdeers bunch closely and turn in silence and disappear in perfect order."

Whenever the killdeer is unmolested, as is the case now under protection, it becomes very tame, as is shown above in the account of the birds at Stanford University. N. S. Goss (1891) writes:

"In Coatapec, Mexico, a pair came daily to feed and dress up their feathers beside a little run or gutter in the center of the narrow paved street opposite my room in the hotel, regardless of the people on the sidewalks, only running or dodging to avoid a person crossing or to keep out of the way of a pack of mules, etc."

Voice.--The killdeer is at times the noisiest of birds and is hated by the gunner, for its alarm cries disturb every bird within a long range. The "song" has been described under courtship. F. M. Chapman (1912) well characterizes some of its cries as "half-plaintive, half-petulant." Kill-dee kill-dee is the common cry from which it takes its name, for it omits the r at the end. But it has a great variety of other cries with which it rends the air, and I find in my notes the following: kee-kee; eet-eet-eet; kee-ah, kee-ah; dee-dee-dee; tsee-he, tsee-he; tso-he, tso-he; ker, ker, ker, and piercing tee-ars. It is, of course, difficult to express these cries properly on paper, and a great variety of syllables have been recorded by different writers.

Aretas A. Saunders (1926) gives the following excellent description:

The calls are mainly of three sorts. The first is the common call heard when one approaches one or more birds, or the vicinity of a nest; 'dee dee dee dee-ee kildee dee-ee,' etc. the notes usually slurred slightly upward at the end, at least the longer ones. A second call is the long trilled 't-rrrrrrrrrrrrrr,' often heard when the nest or young are threatened, and when the birds are fighting or displaying. The third call is one from which the bird evidently has derived its name. It is usually indulged by birds flying about in the air in loose flocks, particularly early in the morning or toward evening. A number of observers or writers on the notes of this species seem not to have separated this call from the first one. It differs always by the fact that the notes slur downward, instead of upward, on the end. I should write it 'kildeeah kildeeah kildeeah,' at least in those forms where the first note is lower in pitch than the second. It is often rendered, however, when the first note is highest in pitch, when it sounds more like 'keedeeah keedeeah.'

The name chewekee by which it has long been known on the Carolina coast, according to Arthur T. Wayne, is probably descriptive of its cries.

Field marks.--The killdeer is a marked bird in the field, both on account of its plumage and on account of its voice. Its plover ways, its long straw-colored legs, its long tail with buff-colored upper coverts and rump and the two black bars on the breast are all good field marks. It cannot be mistaken for any other bird if these points are borne in mind.

Fall.--The fall, for the same reason as the spring migration, is not as marked with the killdeer as with our other shore birds. William Rowan (1926), writing of Alberta, says: "The latest killdeers have been noted in the fall weeks after the freeze-up." Dr. Arthur P. Chadbourne (1889) recorded a memorable reverse flight of killdeer in fall on the Atlantic coast, due to the great November storm of 1888, which distributed them within a mile or two of the coast as far north as Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.

Game.--Fortunately the killdeer is now on the protected list from which it should never be removed, for it is too valuable and attractive a bird to be shot for sport. Before this protection occurred, the birds, as we have seen, were almost exterminated in some parts of the country. In other parts, luckily, they seem to have come under the protection of food prejudice. Thus W. L. Dawson (1909), writing of the birds of Washington state, says, "Fortunately for them, the flesh of the killdeer is not esteemed for food by humans, so they are allowed to gather in peace in full companies."

Enemies.--Besides man, now happily pacified, the killdeer has little to fear in the way of enemies besides a few of the larger hawks and owls. H. H. Kopman (1905) relates a curious case where he found a killdeer caught by the leg at a crayfish hole, with one toe already eaten off. He released the bird and cared for the wound. The bird was able to stand and to fly away the next morning.

Winter.--It is a pleasure to have this bird wintering throughout the southern parts of our country. R. W. Williams (1919), writing of these birds wintering in Florida, says: "They mingled freely with the other shore birds on the beach, mud flats, and oyster beds." M. P. Skinner, of the birds observed at Pinehurst, says: "All through the winter, the killdeer seemed to be roughly paired. They might separate two or three hundred feet while feeding, but they always came together again soon, and any intruders were promptly chased off. The first actual mating that I saw was on January 28, 1927."

With enlightened public opinion, a knowledge of the beneficial character of this fine bird and its perpetual protection, there seems to be every prospect that the killdeer will always remain a joy to nature lovers and an aid to farmers.

Killdeer* Charadrius vociferus

*Original Source: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. 1929. Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 146 (Part 2): 202-217. United States Government Printing Office