American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 42

KILLDEER (Oxyeckus vociferus). These handsome but noisy birds are abundant throughout the United States and southern Canada except in New England and the eastern Provinces, where they are only locally or casually found. The sexes are alike in plumage, and immature birds are only a little duller plumaged than adults. They are very noisy at nearly all times; they delight in chasing one another over the fields, all screaming their loud, strident kill-dee, killdee, and when they happen near the nest of a pair, all the Killdeer in the neighborhood promptly arrive and add their voices to those of the owners.

     They are not at all confined to the proximity of water, in fact during the nesting season they may not be within miles of it. They are useful birds to the agriculturist, for their food is chiefly of injurious insects. They run rapidly and gracefully, stopping every few feet to stand erect and look about them. Their eggs are laid in pastures or cornfields in slight depressions with scant lining of straw and pebbles; they are creamy-buff, thickly speckled and blotched with blackish-brown.

 

SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER (gialitis semipalmata). Commonly known as "Ring-necks." Considerably smaller than Killdeer, measuring but 7 in., while the last species measures about 10 in. Breeds from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Keewatin north to the Arctic coast, migrates throughout the United States. both coasts and interior, and winters from the Gulf States to Chile and Patagonia. During migrations they are particularly abundant on mud flats and protected beaches. The experienced gunner rarely shoots them. for they are too small to be of consequence and are too easy to get. But the small boy with his first gun may create havoc in their ranks, for they are still legally game, although it is the consensus of opinion among sportsmen as well as ornithologists that all small shore birds should be protected. "Ring-necks" are the most confiding of birds; they will feed along the water's edge within two or three feet of you, if you are sitting quietly.