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In a previous post I mentioned that Louisa and I had made a recent trip to Whitewater Draw, a substantial area of marshes and ponds about 100 miles southeast of Tucson. Unfortunately, it is virtually bone dry now, the consequence of our annual spring drought and June’s fierce heat. Many of the aquatic species that live there during months when there is water in the ponds have moved on. However, it isn’t devoid of wildlife. Among the birds that we saw there were Kildeer.
Kildeer are plovers, a group of birds that include several species that inhabit open country — fields, prairies, and marshlands. Some of these species prefer to be close to water but Kildeer can often be seen quite a distance from the nearest pond or marsh. In southern Arizona one sees them in farmlands and at locations like Whitewater Draw. They seem to be especially fond of disturbed ground, land that has been turned over by plows, for example. The Kildeer that we saw at Whitewater Draw were foraging on the hardened mudflats that are the bottoms of the now-dry ponds.
Kildeer are easy to identify with their spindly legs, the dark double-band collars on their necks, their white “eyebrows,” and their disproportionately huge eyes, ringed with bright orange. Often, one hears these birds before one sees them. When foraging, they call constantly, and surprisingly loudly. Their call generally is a sharp, one-note “peep!” Hear it one time and you won’t forget it.
Image made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 320, f5.6 @ 1/2000.