Killdeer sketches and photos: First Friday Art

Here are a few killdeer pencil sketches I did while watching them in the field.

Killdeer sketches

These shorebirds always let you know they are there with their distinctive kill-deer call. Here’s one calling near Sizzling Basin at Yellowstone National Park.

furry & feathered, killdeer at Yellowstone National Park

In the photo below, you can see a killdeer defending its nest from ornithologist Pepper Trail at Summer Lake, Oregon. I circled it to make it easier to see.

Killdeer defending nest

Killdeer pretend they’re injured and do a broken-wing display to lead predators away from their eggs. You can see in my killdeer sketches above how I was trying to capture this behavior.

Males and females do this display and both incubate the eggs. If the broken-wing display doesn’t work, these fearless birds will run directly at anyone too close to their nest.

Can you spot the single egg in the picture below? Yes, they are well-camouflaged!

Killdeer feigning injury

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First Friday Art

9 thoughts on “Killdeer sketches and photos: First Friday Art

  1. Members of the plover family in our country show the same behaviour. I always feel apologetic towards the birds when I inadvertently get so close to their nest that they have to employ this strategy. I’d feel terrible if something happened to the eggs while the parents were trying to distract the big two-legged predator. Thank goodness the eggs are so well camouflaged!

    • Yes, I also feel bad when I’ve gotten close enough for them to do that display. It’s interesting to hear plovers use the same strategy in your part of the world. The eggs blend in so well, it’s a miracle more of us don’t accidentally step on them. Young plovers are some of the cutest hatchlings I’ve ever seen. 😁

  2. Nicely done. Those killdeer fascinate me. Nesting in high traffic areas seems counterintuitive, although it seems every time I have encountered them they are close to trail or road. They are great actors though! I saw my first killdeer chicks this past year and they must have been just days old. They were wandering with mom and dad along a river road which seemed so dangerous to me. The chicks are adorable.

    • Thanks, Bonnie! Yes, I also find it fascinating how they choose nest sites in heavily used areas. I agree about their chicks – totally adorable!

  3. I always laugh when I see a Killdeer – for such smart birds (ex their wing injury distraction) they pick such lousy spots for their nests hehehe. Nice sketches.

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