Killdeer – An Unusual Visitor

Late this afternoon the weather was cool and sunny, with a clear blue sky and high wind-swept white cirrus clouds, with temperature in the 50s, much warmer than the past 10 days or so, almost balmy.

The most surprising sighting of the day was a Killdeer – the first time I’ve ever seen one in our neighborhood. It was foraging in short, dry grass near the driveway of a home and I watched it for several minutes, just walking around. But I wasn’t the first one to see it. A couple of days ago, a neighbor had stopped me to ask about a bird he had seen and could not identify – he described it well, as a good-size bird that flew and landed in a distinctive way, mostly brown, with a long dark bill and a white ring around its neck. I couldn’t figure it out at the time since I’d never seen one here, but after I got home, decided from his description that it must have been a Killdeer – and sure enough, today I saw it not far from his house.

The Killdeer is an upland plover that’s fairly common on farmland and open grassy fields. We often see them – and hear their loud, peeping calls – in parks and ball fields. I’ve even found their eggs, in a shallow gravel nest, laid right on the edge of a walking trail in one park. But to see one here in our neighborhood is new. It’s a handsome bird, with rather long legs, white markings on the face, brown back, white throat and belly, and what looks like a white ring around its neck is created by black bands around the upper breast.

Thanks to my neighbor for a very interesting sighting!

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