Broken-wing Bird


This week’s photo, taken May 17, 2014 at Discovery Park in Seattle, WA, features a KILLDEER, probably the most common plover in North America.

The Killdeer is an interesting shorebird in many ways.

It’s a very attractive bird. It has 2 breast bands, a distinction that can help a bird-watcher separate it from the many other species in the plover family. Its orange-red eye ring is a cool feature, and it also has an orange rump, seen in flight and when executing its “broken-wing” display (more about that shortly).

This bird is named for its “kill-deer” vocalization. Killdeer can be quite noisy, a fact that may not surprise you if you notice that the second part of its scientific name is “vociferus” (characterized by loudness).

If you ever see a Killdeer walking on the ground with what appears to be a broken wing, what you probably are observing is a very clever acting performance. Since Killdeer nest on the ground (often on gravel), they will try to draw a potential predator away from the nest by walking away from the nest while faking a broken wing. The predator is likely to follow the Killdeer, thinking that it’s an injured bird and, therefore, easy prey. Of course, if the predator gets too close, the Killdeer will fly away.

If you spot a Killdeer performing its broken-wing act, give the bird some space. In the mind of the Killdeer, YOU may be the predator that’s getting too close to the nest. Its eggs may be mixed in with small rocks or gravel, so move away carefully, so you don’t step on the eggs.

Be kind to the Killdeer. Otherwise, it will have to raise its voice with you, and you don’t want that to happen.

To view Joe’s Best Bird Photos, go to:


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Broken-wing Bird

  1. James L Mason says:

    Hhi We finaly got catbirds in the backyard.they like suet and mulberrys. I have a mullberry growing now.. jameslmason    

  2. Brenda Peterson says:

    Beautiful photo and really interesting info!

    Thank you very much, Joe!



  3. Judy Zeckhauser says:

    Thx for the warning. I never heard if or saw a killdeer but now I have learned something , as always, from you. Thx Joe. J


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s