The corridors of lightly traveled, secondary roads often provide important wildlife habitat. Roadsides are open, “edge” habitats that may contain a variety of weeds, seeds, wildflowers and small shrubs that are lacking in surrounding landscapes due to intensive management and development. Deer, turkeys, crows and migrating blackbirds are using these corridors now.
Drainage issues along secondary roads are often managed with a system of interconnected culverts and open ditches. Occasionally, a ditch intercepts a good flow of spring water and produces a micro-habitat that remains ice free through most of the winter.
This spring-fed portion of a drainage ditch, no more than 35 meters long and 2 meters wide, is full of surprises: visitors include muskrats, mallards and Great Blue Herons. Yesterday, I added a new species to the list: Killdeer. A pair were alternately feeding and resting in the shallows and mudflats.
Killdeer are plovers, shorebirds with an identity problem. They like open, flat places but, unlike their relatives, are more at home on dry land than wetlands. Golf courses, pastures, and gravel-covered surfaces like rooftops, parking areas and roadsides are favorite habitats for nesting and foraging.
Killdeer are opportunistic feeders, but their diet is mainly invertebrates – insects, worms, etc.
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.