• Terry Wise

Killdeer Takes Oscar for "Broken Wing" Portrayal

The Killdeer stands out with its black, white and brown coloring. It has a white collar and white forecrown on its head. The white chest is barred with two black breast bands that look like necklaces. Their brown face is marked with black and white patches. Killdeer have the characteristic large, round head, large eye, and short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings. Killdeer have a bright orange-buff rump that is conspicuous only in flight. Killdeer averages approximately ten inches in length. And their wingspan is just over 18 inches. They weigh in at around 3 ½ ounces. The Killdeer flies rather stiffly on its long, pointed wings. Their flight is rapid, with stiff, intermittent wingbeats.




The old “broken-wing” con! Killdeer lure predators – including me - away from a nest by faking injury. As I approached on my nature walk this morning, the Killdeer suddenly developed a “broken wing”. It struggled in front of me - barely walking and seemingly not able to fly. One or both wings are bent and drag on the ground. As I walked forward "trying to rescue" the Killdeer and reached out for it, the Killdeer managed to stay one step ahead of me. The “con” continues to play out until the Killdeer has led you away from its babies. Then, its “broken wing” miraculously heals and the Killdeer flies away. Killdeers also have an unusual gait: they run; then stop; and finally, they bob their heads (think “bob & weave” as in boxing).









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