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Killdeer - Master of Distraction

Is that bird's wing broken? Nope!

The Killdeer is one of the most widespread and commonly seen shorebirds in North America. Killdeers lure predators - including humans - away from their nest by calling loudly while appearing to limp and drag a wing. Found throughout the United States and Canada, they nest on the ground, often in human-modified habitats such as gravel roads, driveways, parking lots, and lawns. Catch a video of an adult feigning injury to protect its young. Did you miss a show? Search the archive!

Full Transcript



Killdeer, Master of Distraction

Adapted from a script by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote.
[Killdeer calling, a variety of vocalizations]
We’re hearing a Killdeer, one of the most widespread and commonly seen shorebirds in North America. It’s a handsome bird with a brown back and a distinctive pair of black bands across its white breast. Listen again, and you might hear why this bird has also been called the “Chattering Plover” and the “Noisy Plover.”
[Repeat Killdeer calls]
To think of the Killdeer as a bird strictly of the shore is misleading, because they can be found a long way from water. It’s not uncommon to see one nesting on the shoulder of a road, in someone’s gravel driveway, on a golf course, or even a construction site. I was pumping gas the other day when one flew by, calling loudly.
 [Repeat Killdeer calls.]
Since Killdeers often nest near people or other predators, this species has developed a distraction display called the “broken-wing act”. To protect their young, Killdeers lure predators away from their nest. The parent bird calls loudly while appearing to limp along with one wing outstretched and its tail fanned.
 [Alarm call used during the broken-wing act]
This technique has proven to be very successful. One scientist observed that the broken-wing act distracted potential predators in 1,012 out of 1,017 approaches.
[More Killdeer alarm – the trill]
 You can hear BirdNote any time day or night, at our website. We archive all the shows, so if you miss one, just come to I’m Michael Stein.
Calls of the Killdeer provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to   July 2017   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#070505KILLKPLU    KILL-01b-2009-07-21-MS-


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