Killdeer Chicks at Red Rock Lakes NWR

Killdeer chick on a mudflatKilldeer chick on a mudflat – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

On my recent trip to Idaho an Montana I photographed several species of shorebirds at an alkali pond near the dam at the Lower Lake of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana including a Least Sandpiper, Avocets, a Wilson’s Phalarope chick and several Killdeer chicks. I photographed the Killdeer chicks the same day as the Least Sandpiper.

The Killdeer chicks were feeding along the edge of the pond, running around the mudflats, preening and resting. They look a little scruffy at this age but I think that adds to their cuteness. I have found it difficult in the past to get light on Killdeer chicks eyes but succeeded to do that in several frames last week. On my last trip to the refuge I had seen tiny chicks from quite a distance but these were close enough to photograph. Killdeer can have more than one brood during the breeding season and it appears that they do just that at the refuge. Killdeer chicks are precocial and active soon after hatching and will leave the nest as soon as their down dries. The adults are not known to feed the chicks and will lead them to feeding areas as soon as all the eggs in the brood hatch.

Resting Killdeer chickResting Killdeer chick – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I don’t know how old the chicks were that I photographed but they foraged on their own and there were adults nearby. I focused solely on photographing the chicks though.

While I photographed the chicks I never heard them make a noise but the nearby adults did. Killdeer are known for being noisy and during the 18th Century that earned them the names of Chattering Plover and Noisy Plover. The chicks I photographed will be noisy too soon enough.

Life is good.



  1. Elephant's Child July 20, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Love those gawky chicks. thank you.

  2. Jane Chesebrough July 20, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I keep saying the word “cute” because I am seeing so many young ones, these chicks are cute I guess I could say “adorable” because they are. I am amazed how fast they are out of the nest, and have such respect for the parents’ efforts to keep these ones fed and protected.It would be so exciting to be there photographing them.These pictures affirm that indeed, “life is good.”

  3. Carol July 20, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I love these little guys. The kildeer lay their eggs in our rock flower beds…or one of the neighbors yard. We had 3 babies running around our yard a week ago. I love watching the “changing of the guard” when mom and dad switch off sitting on the eggs. I have video of them trying to lure me away from the nest with their “broken wing” display. (I was just walking out my front door, not deliberately going around their nest). They are fascinating birds…..and SO noisy!!

  4. Bob McPherson July 20, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Beautiful photos Mia. Used to see lots of these birds in the Panhandle of Texas, where I grew up.

  5. Liz Cormack July 20, 2016 at 6:03 am

    How sweet. How lucky you were. The closest I’ve come to photographing killdeer chicks is a female with wings spread out & 6 legs.

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