Killdeer | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Killdeer | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Killdeer Overview


The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover with a brown and white patterned body, marked by two distinctive black bands across its upper chest and neck. It has a relatively long, slender bill and a red-orange ring around its eye.

Its legs are pale orange, and its tail is edged in white. The Killdeer is known for its distinct and noisy call, often described as a loud, repeated "kill-deer" sound. This bird's appearance is designed for its ground-nesting habits and its habitat in open fields and shorelines.

Origins And Evolution

The Killdeer, scientifically known as Charadrius vociferus, is a species of plover native to North and South America. It belongs to the family Charadriidae, which includes various shorebirds. The origins of the Killdeer trace back to the Pleistocene epoch, indicating its ancient presence in the Americas.

As a ground-nesting bird, the Killdeer has evolved specific behaviors and physical traits to protect its nests and adapt to its open habitats. These adaptations include its distinctive noisy distraction display and cryptic coloration.

Over time, the Killdeer has diversified into several subspecies, each adapted to its particular geographical range and habitat. Despite some environmental challenges, it remains a resilient and adaptable bird species with a significant presence in the Western Hemisphere.

Behavior and Lifestyle

The Killdeer is known for its distinctive behavior and lifestyle. These birds are highly nomadic, with some populations migrating seasonally to find suitable habitats. They prefer open environments like fields, pastures, shorelines, and gravelly areas for foraging and nesting.

Killdeers are renowned for their broken-wing display, a tactic used to distract predators from their nests, which are simple scrapes in the ground. They are primarily ground-nesters and lay speckled eggs that blend into their surroundings, allowing them to hide from potential threats.

Killdeer Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Charadriidae
  • Genus: Charadrius
  • Species: vociferus

Killdeer Locations

  • North America
  • South America
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Central America
  • Caribbean Islands

Fast Facts

  • Name: Killdeer
  • Scientific Name: Charadrius vociferus
  • Habitat: Grasslands, Shorelines
  • Diet: Insects, Worms
  • Physical Features: Brown, White
  • Nocturnal: Diurnal mostly
  • Solitary: Social, Group-living
  • Unique Order: Charadriiformes
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Fun Facts: Distinctive calls, Feigning injury to distract predators

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Brown, White
  • Skin Type: Feather-covered
  • Top Speed: Not specified
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Weight: 70-110 grams
  • Length: 23-28 cm
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 1 year
  • Age of Weaning: Not applicable

Killdeer FAQs

What is a Killdeer?

A Killdeer is a species of bird known for its distinctive brown and white plumage and loud, repeated calls. It belongs to the plover family and is often found in open habitats.

Where are Killdeers commonly found?

Killdeers are commonly found in North and South America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America.

Why are they called "Killdeers"?

They are named after their distinctive, loud call that sounds like "kill-dee, kill-dee," which they use to communicate and warn of potential threats.

What do Killdeers eat?

Killdeers primarily feed on insects, small invertebrates, and occasionally seeds. They forage for these food items in open fields and shorelines.

Are Killdeers nocturnal birds?

No, Killdeers are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and rest at night.

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