A Season of Killdeer
“Look!” That word always makes my heart jump a little as I wonder what new marvel nature has in store for me. I rushed to the back window of the RV to see what was out there.
A Killdeer!! Just walking in the grass behind the RV only a couple of feet away. What an incredible photography opportunity!
And that’s not all!! Behind it 3 teeny tiny little hatchlings followed by another adult. OMG!!
The Killdeer walked right past my tripod, which was waiting outside for an opportunity to present itself. But these guys were too close for me to rush outside. I watched in awe as they passed behind the RV and then, as quietly and slowly as possible, I snuck outside to begin photographing.
I wonder what life is like when you are only as big as a buttercup?
I always wondered why they are called Killdeer. It’s not like they could possibly kill a deer!! But then it dawned on me while listening. They say their name when they fly! Just take a listen…
By the way, a group of Killdeer is called a Season.
I see the Killdeer almost every day here on the estuary in Campbell River, BC. They are not far away, but being only the size of a robin, they are pretty small in the frame even at 400mm. What an opportunity to have them come up and visit us on the grass.
I love it when the wildlife comes to me because I know it is their choice.
After getting a few shots of these incredibly cute little birds, one of the adults flew to the other side of me and put on her “look at me I’m injured” act. Seriously! It’s something Killdeer are known for. They try to attract attention away from their chicks by pretending to be injured like they have broken wing – easy prey for any predator that might threaten their babies.
I got a few shots of the act, and then decided to stop shooting and go back inside the RV so the family could get back together. As a wildlife photographer, I don’t like to do anything that changes the behaviour of the animals I am photographing.
Once the family was back together and had moved a little bit farther away, I snuck back outside for more photos.
I knew the chicks couldn’t fly and they wouldn’t be able to get away quickly should any preditor arrive. And after trying to be all stealth and not scare them, I was horrified to see a cat doing the hunting cat prowl about to attack one of the chicks. So I did something I never thought I would do. I ran up and scared them away. The last thing I want to do is have the birds be scared of me, and I didn’t want to end this incredible photo opportunity, but I wasn’t going to sit there and watch a cat eat my photography subject either!
I was so mad!! The poor helpless little chicks that couldn’t even fly! And now they would probably never come back. But at least they weren’t dead.
(I had some words with the RV park resident who thinks the pets-on-leash rule doesn’t apply to her and her cats.)
I only hope these beautiful babies survived and will be amongst the Killdeer I see on the estuary for years to come.
This is the gear I used to make these photos:
- Gitzo Tripod
- Gitzo Fluid Gimbal Head
- Canon 7D Mark II
- Canon 400mm f/5.6L Lens
See my Gear Page for more information.
I love this gear setup because it allows me to continue photographing the subjects I love despite not being able to handle the weight of the gear. Ray sets it up for me behind the RV every day. I spend a lot of time sitting outside enjoying nature and when something interesting happens I can jump up and photograph!