Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Charadrius
Species: C. vociferus
Binomial name
Charadrius vociferus
Linnaeus, 1758

Oxyechus vociferus

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium-sized plover.

Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red eyering. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around right after hatching. The killdeer frequently uses a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest.



Eggs in a nest on the ground
Parent protecting small chicks by performing a distraction display to draw attention to itself away from the nest

The range of the Killdeer spreads across the Western Hemisphere. In the summer, Killdeer live as far north as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, the Yukon, Quebec, as well as the southern parts of the U.S. state of Alaska. Killdeer hold a year-round presence across the southern half of the United States and parts of Peru. The Killdeer winters throughout Central America.[1] Although Killdeer are considered shorebirds, they often live far from water. They live in grassland habitats such as fields, meadows, and pastures.[2] The nest itself is merely a shallow depression or bowl in the ground, fringed by some stones and blades of grass.[3] The precious nest is well camouflaged, as the spots of the eggs disguise them as stones, and the simple structure of the nest resembles its surroundings.[4] Like many other waders, Killdeer hatchlings are precocial birds and are able to see and forage soon after hatching.[4]


They are migratory in northern areas and winter as far south as northern South America. They are rare vagrants to western Europe, usually late in the year.

These birds forage for food in fields, mudflats, and shores, usually by sight. They mainly eat insects.

Their name comes from their frequently heard call. These birds will frequently use a distraction display ("broken-wing act") to distract predators from their nests. This involves the bird walking away from its nesting area holding its wing in a position that simulates an injury and then flapping around on the ground emitting a distress call. The predators then think they have easy prey and are attracted to this seemingly injured bird and away from the nest. If the parent sees that a potential predator is not following them, they will move closer and get louder until they get the attention of the predator. This is repeated until the predator is far from the nest, and the killdeer suddenly "heals" and flies away.[3][5]

Their ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat has helped keep them common and widespread in their range.


  1. ^ "Killdeer Range Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-03-11
  2. ^ Loftin, Robert W. (2003). "Killdeer Charadrius vociferus". Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2011-03-01. 
  3. ^ a b Hiller, Ilo (2008). "Killdeer". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2011-03-01. 
  4. ^ a b Porter, Diane (1997). "The Precocious Killdeer". Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  5. ^ "Killdeer". Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2011-3-1.
  • BirdLife International (2004). Charadrius vociferus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 2006-05-11. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern.


External links

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  • killdeer — ☆ killdeer [kil′dē΄kil′dir΄ ] n. pl. killdeers or killdeer [echoic of its cry] a medium sized North American plover (Charadrius vociferus) with a high, piercing cry, that nests in open fields, on beaches, etc.: also killdee [kil′dē΄] …   English World dictionary

  • killdeer — (n.) also killdee, 1731, American English, species of North American ring plover, the name imitative of its cry …   Etymology dictionary

  • Killdeer — Killdee Kill dee , Killdeer Kill deer , n. [So named from its notes.] (Zo[ o]l.) A small American plover ({Charadrius vociferus}, formerly {[AE]gialitis vocifera}) of inland waters and fields having a distinctive cry. The adult has two black… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • killdeer — /kil dear /, n. an American plover, Charadrius vociferus, having two black bands around the upper breast. Also called killdeer plover. [1725 35, Amer.; imit.] * * * Bird (Charadrius vociferus) that frequents grassy mudflats, pastures, and fields …   Universalium

  • killdeer — noun (plural killdeers or killdeer) Etymology: imitative Date: 1731 an American plover (Charadrius vociferus) characterized by two black breast bands and a plaintive penetrating cry …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • killdeer — /ˈkɪldɪə/ (say kildear) noun (plural killdeer or killdeers) a common North American shore bird, Charadrius vociferus, noted for its sharp call. {imitative of the bird s call} …   Australian-English dictionary

  • killdeer — balsingasis kirlikas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Charadrius vociferus angl. killdeer vok. Keilschwanz Regenpfeifer, m rus. крикливый зуёк, m pranc. pluvier kildir, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – kirlikai …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

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