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Killdeer Killdeer

Killdeers are a shorebird that has become comfortable living in agricultural, and suburban areas, making them the most common plover in North America.

Identification - Pictures and Killdeer

(Charadrius vociferus)wilsons snipe

Killdeers are Plovers about 9 to 11 inches.  Both sexes are brown above, and white below with a reddish brown rump.  They have two black bands around the neck, and an orange eye ring.  They have  a white forehead, and the top of the head is brown.  They have long, pointed brown wings, and tail.  When they fly they show a golden-red rump, and white wing strips.  Male and female killdeer look similar in appearance.  The young birds look like the parents, but only have one neck band, and they have buffy tips on their back, and wing feathers.   

Photo by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.


Video above is Killdeer birds feeding along river. For other bird videos please visit our Youtube channel and subscribe or like our videos.

Most videos on my site were taken with the Canon HG10 camcorder.

Killdeer sound

These are very noisy birds, and are often heard at night.  In spring the male can heard singing kill-deer kill-deer as he circles his territory.  An alarm call is a nasal deet-deet-deet.  They also have a low trill.  In the fall small flocks will fly around, and around calling kill-deer.  Sound

Preferred Habitat

They are year-round residents of the western U.S.  In the summer they range from southern Canada, and Alaska to Northern U.S.  They winter in Mexico, and Central America.  They like agricultural areas, fields, lawns, airports, riverbanks, shores, mudflats and open fields with gravel and little vegetation.  They have adapted well to man.  Even though they are shorebirds that prefer shorelines, they may live, and nest almost anywhere, even if there is no body of water nearby.

Breeding and Nesting

Killdeer normally breed in early spring, starting with the male flying in big circles around the female, calling, kill-deer over, and over.  The birds nest on the ground.  They do not build a nest but will lay their eggs in a depression in gravel.  The nest, and speckled eggs blend easily into the background making them hard to see.  They will nest almost anywhere and have been known to nest in driveways.  

If you get near a nest or babies, the adult Killdeers will often play like they are injured with a broken wing.  They will act like they can barely walk in an attempt to lead you away from the nest.  They are very good at this game, and will let you get just about in reach before they scurry away a little farther.  If you or potential predators are not following them they will come closer and get louder.  When they get you far enough away that they feel the babies are safe the wing will miraculously heal.  If you look around you can often spot the little ones hiding in the grass.  Another deception they use is acting like they are sitting on a nest.  When a predator gets near they move to a new spot to settle.

Both parents take turns incubating 4 buff, speckled eggs for 24 to 28 days.  As soon as their downy feathers dry after hatching from the egg the babies start running around after the parents, and looking for food.  Killdeer are in a group called precocial birds.  These birds are in the egg longer that other birds so when they hatch out they are more developed.  They can't fly yet, and they are a little clumsy but they are ready to go.  Songbirds such as bluebirds are altricia, and require more care from the parents after hatching.  In 20 to 30 days the young birds will be self sufficient.


The main diet of Killdeers is insects, and invertebrates.

To learn about other favorite birds click here.

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