Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Over the past week the Killdeer have come out of their wintering places. Killdeer belong to the Plover or Charadriidae family and are the most commonly spotted bird of that family. Killdeer are pretty easy to identify by the double black bands on their breast and their high pitched call that tends to sound like kill dee or dee dee dee. Another characteristic is when they are in flight you can see their bright red-orange rump. They build their nests on the ground usually in fields or meadows and can often be seen doing the "broken wing dance" to lure predators away from their nests.
Killdeers are one of the most successful of the shorebirds due to the fact that they have adapted well to human modifications of the landscape. However, they are still vulnerable to pesticides and collisions with glass buildings.
An interesting fact about Killdeers is that the "broken wing dance" doesn't work on domestic hoofed animals such as cows and horses who may accidentally step on their nests. So they have come up with a different strategy to keep those animals away from their nests. A Killdeer that sees an approaching hoofed animal will fluff itself up and display its tail over its head, it will then run full speed at the beast in an attempt to make it change its path.
Scott, S.L. 198s. Field Guide to the Birds of North America 2nd Ed. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.
Killdeer, (n.d). Retrieved March 18, 2009 from All About Birds: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Killdeer.html.