Mating Killdeer – Thanks to a Coyote



Last week I wrote about Long-billed Curlews having a Territorial Encounter but earlier that same morning I had another wonderful photographic encounter thanks to a scruffy looking, rain soaked Coyote waking up at the top of a ridge.

Scruffy Coyote just waking up – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

After taking just a few images of the Coyote I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye and saw a Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) perched on some rocks on the slope below where the Coyote had been.

I figured that the Killdeer wouldn’t be there long so I wanted to get a few photos of the bird as it perched on a boulder.

When the Killdeer moved to another location I was happy to have a different setting to photograph the bird in.

The Killdeer moved up the slope a little bit more.

It didn’t take long to realize the Killdeer was in the process of selecting a scrape because it was kicking things out of a small area.

The Killdeer lowered its breast to the ground and scraped its feet, this behavior is part of the “Scrape Ceremony” performed by males and females.

The Killdeer left the scrape and seemed to be looking for something on the ground right next to it.

The Killdeer then went back to the scrape and lowered its chest to the ground again.

Then I noticed movement just outside of my viewfinder and another bird moved down to where the first Killdeer was and I backed up my zoom to 357mm so that both birds fit easily into the frame with room to spare in case one of them spread their wings or lifted off.

The female Killdeer moved down towards a small pebble covered ledge.


The male descended to the ledge.

Then he mounted the female.

I wish the birds had been turned slightly towards the left side of the frame in the mating images to get more eye contact.

The male began to dismount.

Throughout this series I was very careful about not filling the buffer on my memory card, I didn’t want to miss any great action because the buffer was full.

When the birds had finished mating the male went up the slope and the female moved down it towards the road. I’ll keep an eye on this area to see if the Killdeer used this scrape to lay their eggs.

If it hadn’t been for the Coyote waking up after a rainy night on Antelope Island I may have missed seeing the Killdeer and creating this series of images.

Mia McPherson, OntheWingPhotography.com

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson is a nature lover, wildlife watcher and an avian photographer. Mia first become serious about bird photography when she moved to Florida in 2004. Her recent move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing them. With so many birds species there easily accessible it wasn’t long before she was hooked. By learning more about each species, she can anticipate their behaviour and create opportunities to obtain ever better images of those species.

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson is a nature lover, wildlife watcher and an avian photographer. Mia first become serious about bird photography when she moved to Florida in 2004. Her recent move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing them. With so many birds species there easily accessible it wasn’t long before she was hooked. By learning more about each species, she can anticipate their behaviour and create opportunities to obtain ever better images of those species.

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Margaret Adamson

Well how fortunate was that.  Being there at the right time.  Lovely sequence of shots.  Well done.

Mia McPherson

Thank you Margaret, I was in the right place at the right time thanks to the Coyote waking up!