Killdeer: The 274 Day “Summer”

In checklists prepared for participants on Eliza Howell Park bird walks, I use these descriptions of the seasonal presence of different bird species in the park:

Year-round (present in all seasons)

Summer (Spring to Fall, breeding season)

Migrating Through (present for short times twice a year)

Winter (Fall to Spring)

One of the Summer birds is Killdeer. It is a Summer bird, but it is still present in the snows of late November!

Photo by Kevin Murphy

Killdeer is one of the first Summer residents to arrive in the spring,  usually between March 1 and March 15. This year it was March 2.

(Adult females and males look alike.)

Photo by Margaret Weber

Killdeer are ground birds; they feed on the ground, nest on the ground, rest on the ground. They are strong flyers, but I have never seen one in a tree.

Though they breed in Eliza Howell every year, it takes careful watching — or good luck — to find a nest, camouflaged out in the open.

By mid-summer they are usually not seen as often here, less restricted to a particular location than while nesting and caring for young.

This year, however, they were frequently found by the edges of the recently expanded meadow pond.

Photo by Kevin Murphy

In the 17 years that I have been keeping records, this is only the second year that I have observed them in EHP in November. It is likely, of course, that those present in the fall are not the same ones that nested here, but others migrating south from breeding areas further north.

(The range map is from Cornell Lab of Ornithology )

Still present on November 30, it is now 274 days since Killdeer first arrived in 2021. The snows have not yet convinced them all to move on, so this might be the first year in my watching that they are present every month except January and February.

Photo by Kevin Murphy

Nine months is indeed a long summer.

2 responses to “Killdeer: The 274 Day “Summer””

  1. Maybe they have the secret to the best summer vacation 🙂


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