Encountering A Killdeer at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

While driving along the auto tour road at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma recently, I spotted a familiar shorebird searching for insects – the Killdeer. These elegant yet noisy plovers have become a common sight during my regular photography visits to this wildlife refuge.

Killdeer Standing Near The Shoulder Of The Road
Killdeer Standing Near The Shoulder Of The Road

On this crisp autumn morning, I pulled over and parked when I noticed a lone Killdeer poking around the gravel shoulder of the road. Grabbing my camera resting on a beanbag perched on the truck’s open window, I silently watched it scurry about. Killdeers blend right into their surroundings with their earthy brown plumage accented by those distinctive black breast bands.

As I clicked away, capturing the tiny bird ambling near the dried grass, I admired its resilience. Despite their petite frames, Killdeers zealously defend their territory and young. When threatened, they will distract predators by fanning out a wing and hobbling away, trying to lure the enemy from their ground nests. Their incessant, high-pitched “kill-deer” cries ever-present during breeding season echo this protectiveness.

Killdeer are remarkably adaptive birds that can raise up to three broods per year, enjoying higher nesting success rates in their southern range. Some even nest year-round in the Caribbean, exemplifying the species’ ability to thrive in varying climates and habitats. These shorebirds have effectively adapted to human-altered environments, commonly nesting and foraging in areas like parks and agricultural fields during winter months.

Photographing these resilient Killdeer among the Snow Geese flock underscored for me the exceptional biodiversity I’ve encountered at Sequoyah NWR. Through a camera lens, I was able to glimpse not just these birds’ appealing forms, but their fascinating behavioral patterns that shift with the seasons. As winter approaches, I look forward to documenting how Killdeer and other remarkable species adapt to the changing refuge landscape.

Note: They are known to be migratory in the northern parts of their range and may be permanent residents in the southern half of the United States, which includes Oklahoma.

Image Information:

  • Date: 12/03/23
  • Time: 11:20 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 160
  • Aperture: 8
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual