Imagine you have been assigned to write an essay about a familiar Montana bird that is undergoing significant population declines in much of its range, unbeknownst to the general public. Which species would you choose to be the poster child that helps focus attention on a group of bird species that appear to be common at the same time that their numbers are plummeting? As it turns out, the Killdeer is an excellent example of a widespread and fairly common bird whose numbers have been dropping for decades. That’s right, the shorebird that millions of people know and love, and which seems to be quite common, is steadily disappearing in plain sight. Where is the evidence for this decline, why is it happening, and what, if anything, can be done about it?
Sadly, the Killdeer is not the only abundant North American bird whose numbers are falling. We believe that one of the best ways to achieve conservation is to shine a light on the problem. Accordingly, we are preparing a series of essays on common birds that have not received the attention they deserve because their population declines largely have gone unnoticed. We will file these essays under the umbrella we call Killdeer’s Keep, and we hope they will raise public awareness and help efforts to reverse the negative population trends that these species presently experience.