Noisy killdeer happy in the rocks

May 15, 2007 

The killdeer doesn’t mind hanging out in places disturbed by people. Where there’s a gravel road or a parking lot, you’ll find this bird.

It’s a tendency that local bird expert Terence R. Wahl wrote about in his book, “Birds of Whatcom County.”

“Nesting habitats include gravel parking lots, railroad roadbeds, airport runway borders and other choices appearing quite questionable to humans,” Wahl writes.

The birds are common residents of Washington state.

In his book, David Allen Sibley describes the bird as “lanky, with slender wings and a very long tail.” The bird also has an orange rump.

The largest of the ringed plovers, adults are distinguished by the two bands at the breast.

Their diet of choice consists of snails, beetles, earthworms and other land invertebrates. They have been known to eat seeds.

Killdeer are the loud mouths of the bird world because they’re “extremely vocal,” according to a posting on the Seattle Audubon Society’s Birdweb.org.

It’s the males that give a “kill-DEE” call during courtship.

And while killdeer can live in man-made areas such as golf courses, there’s concern that they are not reproducing at a healthy level because of damage caused by pesticides and the destruction of their eggs and chicks.

Sources: “Birds of Whatcom County,” by Terence R. Wahl; Bird Web.org; “The Sibley Guide to Birds,” by David Allen Sibley. Reach Kie Relyea at 715- 2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

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