Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bird of the month: Killdeer

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium-sized plover inhabitant of open lands (usually short grass), not always close to water. Its name is an onomatopeyic version of its constant, loud and delicate kill-dee that is frequently heard wherever this shorebird is found. In fact, its specific Latin name is allusive to its habit of calling constantly, a habit that makes this plover easy to find if present. The Killdeer is also known by its "broken wing" act, that displays to lead intruders away from its nest (though is not the only bird that displays it). In Panama, is the only plover with double breast bands, as you can see clearly in the first photo. It has a wide distribution along the Americas, but in Panama, it is mainly an uncommon northern migrant. Probably is less than uncommon, at least for me, considering the very few encounters that I had experienced with this attractive plover. One of those encounters (in fact, the very first one) is still fresh in my mind. In my first years of birding (more or less 15 years ago) I had the great opportunity to bird with the charismatic Francisco Delgado (discoverer of the Azuero Parakeet) in his homeland in the Azuero Peninsula. He took me and my good friend Rafael Cortes to several spots in the Herrera province, finding many lifers for me, but the highlight of the trip was a visit to Las Macanas marsh where he just had discovered the first nesting attempt of this species! He showed us the Killdeers, and even showed us the broken egg shells left at a former nest! Since then, I only saw scattered individuals until this past january... I saw loose flocks of Killdeers at three different sites... including my last sighting precisely in Las Macanas marsh (where I took the photo of the flying bird). In fact, they are usually found in flocks in their winter grounds, despite they are lonely birds in their breeding grounds (generally seen singly or in pairs). These sightings are noteworthy considering that I saw none last year, when I was actively searching birds for The 600 Club challenge. For these, and many others reasons, is why we choose the Killdeer as our bird of the month!
Literature consulted:
1. National Geographic Society. Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Second edition (1994).
2. Angehr GR and Dean R. The Birds of Panama. A Field Guide. First edition (2010).

No comments:

Post a Comment