Early in the summer morning light, the grass and water are bathed in a lemon yellow glow of light as the sun rises over the Rocky Mountains to the east. The killdeer takes advantage of the quite morning atmosphere to search the shoreline of this small lake for a meal. The shoreline is filled with all kinds of nooks and crannies where insect larvae might be hiding and the mudflats might produce aquatic insects, minnows or crayfish that have been washed ashore during the night.
The killdeer is a great example of a wildlife species that can blend into its environment when it has too. The shape, colour, markings and size of its body neatly match the limestone cobbles scattered along the shoreline. Had the killdeer been standing among these rocks your eye could have easily missed it. It nests among the rocks and the eggs themselves even look like small stones.
Shorelines make up an important component of the Killdeer’s habitat. The roots of plants as well as logs and rocks help protect shorelines from the erosive forces of the waves. Healthy shorelines and healthy aquatic environments ensure that the killdeer’s food sources can thrive.
I purposely created this painting with an exaggerated horizontal dimension to give purpose to the killdeer’s direction of travel - so that you didn’t have the feeling it was about to walk off the canvas without giving you time to appreciate it. Many of the blades of grass have a slight biased lean towards the right as if pointing the way. The cluster of stones to the right helps move your eye from left to right across the canvas. These features all help create the sense of where the killdeer is going; however, it is more likely the killdeer would suddenly “heal” and fly off to another side of lake while shrieking “kill-deer”…kill-deer.”