Project Chekov: Kingbird and Killdeer

Today’s featured bird was a bit of a surprise to me.  Linda and I were up in Baraboo, Wisconsin checking out the International Crane Institute and decided to tear ourselves away from the Cranes and take a little walk out on their trails.  Birders will never pass up the opportunity to check out the locals.  We quickly came to a marshy field with an abundance of cattails.  There were a few Red-Winged Blackbirds meandering about on the edges of the treeline, but not a whole lot of activity in the field itself.  At the time I thought this was a little strange thinking this would be a great spot to hang out if I had wings.  About that time I noticed what looked like a dark spot in the middle of the marsh.  Time to bring out The Beast.

Sure enough, it was a bird!  Without a lot of other options I decided to make the best of the situation.  This meant hand-holding an 8 pound glass on a bird that didn’t even fill up one focus point.  The fact that you can actually tell it was a bird is a miracle in itself.   I had to bring the subject in a little closer in the digital darkroom.

While processing the pictures it began to dawn on me this little excursion into the field may have yielded a new check on the ol’ birding list.  To the reference books!  Well, after going through a number of different options I landed on an Eastern Kingbird which .. wait for it… is indeed a new bird – yeah! (assuming it was classified correctly – feel free to weigh in with comments).

Hit the jump to continue reading about this interesting bird

So for now, let’s go with the Eastern Kingbird.  The white piping through the wings and tail are a check.  Cornell’s website actually likened it to a business suit.  This seems fitting because the site also explained that these birds “mean business”.  Looks like these medium sized birds have a little complex about other birds having the audacity (if you haven’t noticed, I’m taking that word back) to enter into their territory.  Regardless of the size (Crows, Hawks, Herons, etc.), they’ll make their stand.  This explains why the other birds were staying clear.

According to the reference books these attitudes with wings spend their summer months spread out across most of the US and up into Canada.  Their region breadth is a little surprising seeing how I have not seen these birds in our neck of the woods which is a shame since they are also insect eaters.  During the Winter months they get their white striped butts down into South America.  Unlike the Buntings from before (link here), these birds can recognized when that damn Cowbird tries to stash eggs in its nest and promptly kicks them out.

Also note, one of its fellow Kingbirds may have already made an appearance on the blog (link here).  Even in that post I wasn’t 100% sure that it had been properly classified.  Just in case I’ve blown today’s bird, here is a Killdeer to make up for it.

I always like shooting Killdeers because they tend to stand still for a few seconds when they don’t think you are a threat to them – otherwise they jump into their acting mode and start dragging around like they have a wounded wing in an effort to distract you from their nests.  When they are slowing down enough for you to get a shot, they have a built in bulls eye to focus on.

Set the focus at the red wing and presto, one nice crisp shot to write home about.  Just try to keep any obnoxious background objects out of the frame first hehehehe.  Anyway, hope you enjoyed the new bird to the list (barring a mistake on that).  Just remember, if you see a bird, shoot it – you never know what surprises you might have in the tin.

2 thoughts on “Project Chekov: Kingbird and Killdeer”

  1. Yup, I agree–an Eastern Kingbird. Strange that its crest isn’t up, but I did see a smattering of shots online where the crest was down.

    The Killdeer is a pretty cool-looking bird. Their song is like “kill-deer”. I didn’t know about the fake injury–did you ever see that?



  2. Cool – a confirmed Check with the Eastern Kingbird. I have seen the Killdeer acting in action. Once down in Banner Marsh when I spooked it while crawling through the marsh stalks. The other time was when I was walking out of our proving grounds and looked down and saw a Killdeer hanging out in the rocks in a decorative landscaping in the middle of the parking lot. Trying to figure out why it was there I saw it had laid four eggs in the middle of the rocks that matched the rock color PERFECTLY. Took a picture on my cell phone – will have to show you sometime. When the Killdeer noticed I had found them it went straight into broken wing mode.


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