Those wacky killdeer...

Joined
Oct 28, 2006
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Wyoming, USA
I paddled a 25 mile stretch of the North Platte today trying out a new kayak I'm rigging up for use as a photography craft.

While having a spot of lunch on an island in the river the killdeer put on quite a show for me doing their broken wing antics. It was fun to single one out and let him draw me off into the water. When I'd return to my craft and my lunch the bird ran right back to me and started it all over.

They're quite intelligent, or at least perceptive, as all displays ceased once I boarded my kayak even though I was still sitting on their island. When I stood up and exited the boat again, the displays started immediately. Brave little birds, killdeer.

All taken with D300 and 70-300VR @ f7.1 & 300mm:

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'Twas a fun day, learned a lot. Thanks for looking!
 
Joined
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TX originally from Louisiana
Well, the broken wing act is their way of drawing away from their nests. I didn't know that the first time I saw it, thought it was really hurt and didn't want to take a photo. Nice captures for sure!
 
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Oct 28, 2006
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Wyoming, USA
nice series.

Thank you, Daniel. It's so much easier to get good photos when the subjects allow the amateur to get this close!

great series of a beautiful little bird. I love their broken wing act, you captured it beautifully.


Thank you. This particular river island has always sported a high killdeer population. I often put out here for a spot of food and drink and the locals are always ready to put on a show!

Well, the broken wing act is their way of drawing away from their nests. I didn't know that the first time I saw it, thought it was really hurt and didn't want to take a photo. Nice captures for sure!


Thanks. The island features a narrow 1-3 metre 'beach' with tall thick grasses inland. Their little nests are very simple ground depressions just inside the grassline. I don't go physically enter that area but careful visual exploration with a monocular will often reveal a nesting female or two.

Occasionally, a bull snake will cross the river and hunt the island which results in a killdeer uproar that must be seen to be appreciated!

Interesting behavioral shots, nicely done.

Thank you, Warren. I've usually carried only a small P&S camera when paddling the rivers and it was a nice change to break out a DSLR to get much improved images. I think this new photo/fishing boat might just be a keeper!
 
Joined
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Rockingham, NC (Currently in Afghanistan)
Nice shots. I used to have a couple Killdeer that would nest every year right in my back yard. Gave me a nice chance at capturing the broken wing act as well. This series was shot with a Panasonic Lumix FZ20

http://www.pbase.com/mike_curtis/killdeer

For those that haven't seen it, this is what their nest and eggs look like. Just a small depression in the ground, usually surrounded with small pebbles. They will lay 2 to 4 eggs (at least that's all I've observed) that are quite camouflaged with the ground.

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Joined
Oct 28, 2006
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Wyoming, USA
Great series, Mike! Your image of the nest is a nice culmination. The eggs are indeed amazingly camouflaged unless you're right on top of them. Even the birds themselves easily disappear amongst the rocky areas when they're not running about.

The natural world is exceptionally cool, eh?!
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2008
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lafayette, louisiana
Holmes,
I love watching them do that, I think its the female kildeer protecting the nest?
Anyway, I love these birds been eyein your shots for days. Great captures, and your colors are vibrant.
Kevin P.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Messages
3,473
Location
Wyoming, USA
Wonderful series! You must have been close to their nest.

Thank you! Several nests, actually. I couldn't get a photo position on them without getting into the grassline where it's just too easy to step on a nest inadvertantly.

I also have to balance my intrusion carefully because my presence is causing these birds to burn calories unnecessarily. This exposes them to greater natural hazard since they have to forage more than they would if I were not there bothering them.

Pesky humans, eh?!

Holmes,
I love watching them do that, I think its the female kildeer protecting the nest?
Anyway, I love these birds been eyein your shots for days. Great captures, and your colors are vibrant.
Kevin P.

Thank you, Kevin. I believe it is the females putting on the show. I'm doing another river trip next Sunday and hope to perhaps get a shot or two of hatchlings if the eggs are far enough along. Newly hatched killdeer are a hoot as they get their legs under them the first few days.
 

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