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As I was driving in the rain through the Palouse, looking for interesting barns and hills and horses and other regional photographic subjects, I saw a dirt clod move.  Since I was on a very lightly travelled gravel road, I immediately stopped the car, then backed up to take a closer look.  The hopping dirt clod turned out to be a killdeer, foraging for insects in the recently plowed field.

I gradually inched the car back for a better shot.  Cars make fabulous bird blinds, especially in the rain!  I was able to get only one shot of this bird before it flew away.  I was lucky that it had a pleasing body and head position, fully open eye, no feathers blowing backwards in the wind, etc.  I would normally take a number of bird images to increase my chances of getting some good ones.

A week later, I chanced upon a very cooperative killdeer near Grand Coulee, also in the rain, and was able to get some good shots of it, and with a much nicer (less cluttered) background.  I’ll post those in a few weeks.

I’ve photographed killdeer in a number of locations around the west.  They’re often fairly approachable if you move very slowly and cautiously.  I even got images of a pair of killdeer mating last year, in central California.

They’re very striking birds for their size (a little bigger than a robin) because of their pretty coloring (brown-orange, black and white feathers) and intense red-orange eyes.  Seen from the front, they wear a double “necklace” of black feathers.  They’re very “color-coordinated.”

So the moral of the story is:  if you’re driving along a country road and you see a dirt clod moving, STOP!  Go back to investigate.  And always have your camera ready.  You may just find yourself in the right place at the right time.

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2 Comments

  1. Great pose from the bird.


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