Saturday, March 12, 2011

North American Killdeer Habitats: Brown Bodies, Cavity Nests, Buff Eggs

Summary: North American killdeer habitats year-round in-between Canada and Central America pull brown bodies from buff eggs in cavity nests.

A female killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) feigns broken-wing injury as a distraction display to draw attention away from nest; June 10, 2008: Audrey from Central Pennsylvania USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

North American killdeer habitats advance cultivation through Charadriidae plover family member appetites for excess grasshoppers and snails and expired fish and naturalism through distribution ranges from Canada through Mexico and the Caribbean.
The killdear bears its common name as the sound of female and male flight calls and the scientific name Charadrius vociferus as a crying, ravine-dwelling shorebird. Collisions with vehicles, predation and secondary poisoning from pesticide-riddled prey challenge the killdeer, described in 1758 by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus (May 23, 1707-Jan. 10, 1787). Camouflage for eggs in nests defensible daily by mothers-to-be and nightly by fathers-to-be draw adult killdeer flocks to cinder-, glass-, gravel-, pebble-, rubble-, woodchip-lined ground cover.
Ten-year lifespans expect dry, gravelly, open surfaces and 1-inch (2.54-centimeter) vegetation accessible to running water or standing pools in fields, grasslands, lawns, mudflats, pastures and sandbars.

March through July facilitate killdeer flock members brooding one three- to six-egg clutch northward, two to three southward, at 100- to 200-foot (30.48- to 60.96-meter) intervals.
Parents-to-be generate 1- to 1.5-inch- (2.54- to 3.81-centimeter-) deep scrapes, with inner 5- to 7-inch (12.7- to 17.78-centimeter) diameters, into built or natural grounds and roofs. Cavity nests house black-, brown- or gray-blotched, capped, scrawled, speckled, spotted or wreathed, non- to semi-glossy, oval to pyriform, pale or creamy-buff to beige, smooth eggs. Parents-to-be initiate 22- to 28-day incubations of 1.42- to 1.49-inch (36- to 38-millimeter) by 1.02- to 1.06-inch (26- to 27-millimeter) eggs anywhere open, often near people.
Airport, golf course, parking lot, railroad and road traffic and predatory coyotes, crows, foxes, gulls, opossums, raccoons, ravens, skunks and snakes jeopardize North American killdeer habitats.

Downy, precocious nestlings know base-barred, black-edged buff- and gray-brown-mottled backs, black-tufted tails and one each of black eye-to-bill-base, eye-to-eye, lower nape, mid-back and upper chest bands. They always look buff and gray-brown on the mottled crown and white around the lower face and on the forehead, the hind-neck collar and the underside. They maintain daily contact with parents even though they move out of nests not long after hatching and manage feeding themselves, and, within 40 days, flying. Adults, sexually active since the year after hatching, need beetles, berries, brackish, freshwater, marine or terrestrial insect larvae, crayfish, earthworms, frogs, grasshoppers, minnows, seeds and snails.
North American killdeer habitats up to 7,874.02 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level offer winter's coldest temperatures at minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23.3 degrees Celsius).

Adaptability to water-rich, water-scarce niches, broken-wing displays to pull hungry predators away from nests, penetrating, perturbing, piercing flight calls and run-pause-pick forages protect killdeer life cycles.
Browner faces and smaller sizes than male adults respectively qualify as adult female and breeding female hallmarks while buffed fringes and downy tails quicken juvenile identifications. Black breast-bands and neck-collars, brown upperparts, long, rufous-washed, white-barred wings, red eye-rings, red-orange rumps, rufous-washed backs, white underparts and yellow-pink legs reveal black-billed, brown-crowned, red-orange-tailed adults. Fast-, fluid-beat, twisting flight on 23- to 25-inch (58.42- to 63.5-centimeter) wingspans suggests 9- to 10-inch (22.86- to 25.4-centimeter), 2.25- to 3.12-ounce (63.79- to 88.59-gram) adults.
Agitated series of dee notes and rising trills, alarm-sounding dee-ee repetitions and drawn-out, rising deeee flight calls tell of flocked presences in North American killdeer habitats.

killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) eggs; April 28, 2007: Basil, CC BY SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
A female killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) feigns broken-wing injury to draw attention away from nest; June 10, 2008: Audrey from Central Pennsylvania USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons @
killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) eggs; April 28, 2007: Basil, CC BY SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons @

For further information:
Baicich, Paul J.; and Harrison, Colin J.O. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Second edition. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2005.
Bangs, Outram; Frederic H. (Hedge) Kinnard. 1920. "Oxyechus vociferus rubidus Riley Killdeer: Charadrius vociferus ternominatus nom. nov. West Indian Killdeer." A List of the Birds of Jamaica, Excerpted from "The Handbook of Jamaica 1920," page 8. Kingston, Jamaica: Government Printing Office.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Chapman, Frank M. (Michler). 1920. "Description of a Proposed New Race of the Killdeer From the Coast of Peru: Oxyechus vociferus peruvianus new subspecies." The Auk, new series vol. XXXVII (old series vol. XLV): 106-108. Lancaster PA: Steinman and Foltz.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd edition. Volumes 8-11, Birds I-IV, edited by Michael Hutchins, Jerome A. Jackson, Walter J. Bock and Donna Olendorf. Farmington Hills MI: Gale Group, 2002.
Linnaeus, Carl. 1758. "4. Charadrius vociferus." Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, Tomus I, Editio Decima, Reformata: 150. Holmiae [Stockholm, Sweden]: Laurentii Salvii [Laurentius Salvius].
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Peterson, Alan P., M.D. "Charadrius vociferus Linnaeus 1758." Zoonomen: Zoological Nomenclature Resource > Birds of the World -- Current Valid Scientific Avian Names > Charadriiformes > Charardriidae > Charadrius.
Available @

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