Killdeer – Wash, Fluff and Dry

Last week I photographed a Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) bathing at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area in Davis County, Utah. I was in a mobile blind (vehicle) and the shorebird was quite comfortable in my presence. I used my Nikon D300, resting on my Noodle, f6.3, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, 0.0 EV and my shutter speed ranged from 1/1600 to 1/2000.

The images are posted in sequential order.

Killdeer bathing

The Killdeer was bathing when we first pulled up and it stopped momentarily.

Killdeer bathing

It soon began bathing again, vigorously. I like the flying water droplets and how the water is running off of the birds back.

Killdeer bathing

The Killdeer would press its body into the water and then rise back up.

Killdeer bathing

Then it would spread out its wings a bit.

Killdeer bathing

Sometimes the Killdeer would dip its head into the water, twist it and fling water over its back. While I wish that some of the water wasn’t in front of the eye blocking the catchlight I am happy that the bird had its eye open in this frame. I love the action shown here.

Killdeer bathing

The Killdeer also bobbed its body up and down without immersing its whole body.

Killdeer bathing

I liked this image because I caught the bill open.

Killdeer bathing

I like the great eye contact in this frame.

Killdeer bathing

And the fluffed up feathers in this frame.

Killdeer bathing

Even 1/1600 wasn’t fast enough to stop the motion blur of the feathers but it did freeze most of the water droplets.

Killdeer bathing

Then the Killdeer stood up and called.

Killdeer bathing

Turned its back and gave us an over the shoulder look…

Killdeer bathing

And it began to preen.

Killdeer bathing

I thought this was a funny pose.

Killdeer bathing

And this one too!


The bird moved away from the water and gave itself a final fluff before it flew away.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. You had me at Picture #5. No, seriously, from Picture #1. But I sure love #5.

  2. Pingback: Things You’ll Find Interesting May 2, 2012 @ Chuqui 3.0

  3. Love this action series! As always, your photos capture such great detail.

  4. Great series Mia! Can’t wait until I feel well enough to make some trips out to the coast here!

  5. Great shots Mia. The eyering is so vivid.

  6. Terrific sequence, Mia. Excellent shots. Gotta love those ‘mobile blinds’ :) BTW, I really liked your Noodle idea for a soft resting spot for the lens on the window. I didn’t have a Noodle, but I did have a length of tube pipe insulation for 1/2″ copper pipe ,which works great because it is already split, so you can just cut off a length and you’re ready to go. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Thanks Scott, I do love mobile blinds especially since some of these birds would fly off in a second if I approached them on foot. Let me know how my Noodle idea works out for you if you create one!

      • I’m shopping for a Noodle this week. I can’t believe how great an idea it is.

        • Ingrid, be sure to let me know what you think of the Noodle after using it, it sure makes shooting from a vehicle easier for me and I don’t worry about scratching up the window or my lens.

      • The tube pipe insulation works great, Mia. It is only 2 inches in diameter so it takes up less room than a Noodle would. I always keep a length in the car now. I’ve been using it ever since I ran across your Noodle suggestion.

  7. Outstanding photos of the beautiful bird,perfectly frozen moments! The bird looks very much like a Red-wattled lapwing we have in Sri Lanka.

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