by Larry Czajkoski

The Killdeer is a well-known bird in the State of North Carolina, and its heartbroken cry of kil-dee kil-dee is as familiar to many (farm boys) as is the song of the robin. On its white breast, two black bands stand out (and notice how the upper band completely encircles the neck below the white collar.) Other plovers, such as the smaller semipalmated plover, have only one band or none at all. Otherwise, Killdeer are wet-sand brown above and pure white below, with white around the front of the face and eye. The Killdeer is one of our largest and longest-tailed plovers, so even mixed with a few other species on a mudflat or a beach, they stand out, especially when you spot those two breast bands. 37_Killdeer PHOTO_MayJun2016 Issue IMG_4079 (3)

Unlike most other plovers, Killdeer often forage or nest far from water. It is the one Plover regularly found inland as well as on the coast, and many appear on almost any area of open ground, such as a pasture, a river bar, a college campus, a golf course, or a farm. In fact, the Killdeer is the farmer’s friend, and of great economic value to the farmer, as it spends its foraging time searching for beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects. Crayfish, centipedes, spiders and other invertebrates are also eaten.

Killdeer are attracted to large areas of grass as well as to short-cropped fields, so you may see them on your property if it’s relatively treeless and large. The Killdeer in this photo is partial to golf courses as I have seen him visit and stay for the summer at the Apple Valley Golf Course where I photographed him.