Scientific Name: Charadrius vociferus
Pictures: (click for larger images)
Killdeer on the UCLA Intramural Field (a.k.a. Northern Athletic Field). Photo by Jason Finley, 5-24-05. As I tried to stalk closer to the bird, it did some weird tail-fanning sitting-down display. I think it was a broken wing display, used to lure predators from a nest. I don't know if there was a nest nearby, but I hope there wasn't one in the middle of the field! Photo by Jason Finley, 5-24-05. The killdeer let me get close enough to have a look, but flew off when I got too close, making a loud noise as it went. Photo by Jason Finley, 5-24-05. On 8/31/05 I was delighted to find about TEN killdeer on the Intramural Field in the late morning! I was able to get closer pictures of some of them. Take a close look at the eye. Photo by Jason Finley. Killdeer illustration.
-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.
Description: Medium. 10" in length (beak to tail), slightly smaller than a pigeon. Light brown back and wings, white breast and underneath. Two black bands on upper chest and a white ring around neck. Longish legs.
Commonality/Seasonality: Uncommon, but year-round. As of 2005 there are only two known to be living on campus, but they're present pretty consistently so I've rated them as uncommon. UPDATE: I saw ten killdeers in the expected area on 8/31/05, so we get more than just two, but it's still a small number in a specific location.
Location: The killdeers that live on or visit campus can be found on the UCLA Intramural Field (a.k.a. Northern Athletic Field). This is the large grassy field between the soccer field and Drake Stadium. They probably frequent those two other fields as well. They've also been spotted perching on the edge of the roof of the west wing of the Wooden Center, overlooking the Intramural Field. The best time to see them is early in the morning, before there are a lot of people on the fields. They've also been heard calling at night.
Notes: The killdeer is a shorebird, like a Sandpiper, but they apparently don't have to live right next to the water. They do spend a lot of time down on the ground, where they look for food and even have their nests. They apparently used to be quite common on the campus, according to "Birds of the Campus."
A very common species that has made itself very much at home on the Esplanade. One of the few species you may meet either day or night at any season.
-Miller, Loye. "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300. Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.