Tag Archives: shorebirds

Killdeer © Jillian Paquette

Take 5: Clamorous Killdeer

Among the earliest of spring migrants, Killdeer arrive as early as late-February in exceptionally warm years. No, they’re not raptors despite their fierce-sounding name. A member of the plover family, Killdeer are one species of shorebird you don’t need to go to the beach to enjoy; listen for the shrill kill-deer, kill-deer call for which they are named (earlier names included Chattering Plover and Noisy Plover) in fields and pastures, and on playgrounds, lawns, unpaved driveways, beach dunes, and other open areas.

Killdeer have distinctive color markings: tawny-colored on top and white below, with two black bands across the breast (although juveniles only have one), and black and white patches marking the face, including a black streak that runs through their large eyes. The rusty-colored rump is more visible when the bird is in flight or during a distraction display: When a parent Killdeer (either on a nest or herding young) feels threatened, it will fan its tail, exposing the red rump, and lurch around feigning injury to draw the potential predator away from the nest or young. Talk about protective parents!

Although they won’t visit your backyard feeder, keep an eye out for Killdeer in large lawns and fields where they often forage for insects on the ground and may even dig their shallow nests in the bare ground.

Enjoy these five photos of Killdeer from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest and check out our Quick Guide to Killdeer.

Killdeer © Latitia Duret
Killdeer © Latitia Duret
Killdeer © Ryan Barraford
Killdeer © Ryan Barraford
Killdeer © Ken DiBiccari
Killdeer © Ken DiBiccari
Killdeer © Jillian Paquette
Killdeer © Jillian Paquette
Killdeer © Nanci St. George
Killdeer © Nanci St. George
Melanie Gárate | Coastal Waterbird Education Specialist

In Your Words: Melanie Gárate

In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares his or her story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. If you have a story to share about your connection to Mass Audubon, email explore@massaudubon.org to be considered for In Your Words in a future issue! 


Melanie Gárate

As a native Chilean, my passion for the oceans and their critters began in the vibrant Pacific Ocean. Led by my father’s love of the sea, I spent long summer days on the coast, where we would be the first ones in the water and the last ones out, forced back onto land as the sun nestled under the horizon.

Since my time as a child in Chile and throughout undergrad and graduate school, I have been fortunate enough to travel for research and explore a variety of coastlines—from the pristine coral reefs of marine preserves in Puerto Rico to the dazzling Mediterranean waters of Spain.

These adventures have been juxtaposed with visits to the polluted streams and oceans in Ecuador, the volcanic islands and surrounding waters of the West Indies, and nearby streams in the Greater Boston area. I noticed that where pollution was greatest, there was also a considerable difference between socioeconomic classes and a limited amount of environmental education. These disparate experiences laid the foundation for my path to conservation and urban education, where my interests are very much aligned with the mission at Mass Audubon.

Melanie Gárate | Coastal Waterbird Education Specialist

Today, as part of Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP), I protect endangered shorebirds and their habitat, focusing on educating the diverse urban community of Revere and the metro Boston area. In addition, I’m a teacher naturalist at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center, where we provide positive outdoor experiences and environmental science education for urban youth who would ordinarily not have access to wild and natural outdoor spaces.

Mass Audubon has enabled me to transform my natural curiosity for the oceans and wildlife and passion for reaching underserved populations into my profession. Through my work with Mass Audubon, I am able to conserve the nature of Massachusetts by interacting with and engaging Boston’s urban youth, adults, and families in dynamic and enriching educational opportunities. It’s a dream come true.

 


Melanie Gárate is a Coastal Waterbird Education Specialist and Teacher Naturalist at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center.