Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
10.5 inches (27 cm)
• Two black neck rings
• Flight: chestnut rump very visible
• White underparts
• Dark brown upperparts
• Medium-sized, long-winged shorebird
• Short, fairly thick dark bill
• Legs flesh-colored
• Red eye ring
• White forehead and white stripe behind eye
• Brown face; black lores and upper borders to the white forehead and collar
• White collar
• Brown cap, back and wings
• White breast and belly
• Two black breast bands
• White wing stripe at the bases of the flight feathers is visible in flight
• Rust-red rump
• Brown tail with black subterminal band, white terminal band and barred, white outer tail feathers
• Tail extends beyond wing tips at rest
• Sexes similar
• Juveniles similar to adult
• All other plovers lack the two black breastbands. Very young Killdeer have a single breastband and could be confused with Piping, Wilson's, Snowy or Semipalmated Plovers, but are usually still downy, have black bills (any Piping or Semipalmated Plover having a breastband will also have an orange bill with a black tip), and are colored above like the adult (eliminating the paler Piping and Snowy).
Common and vocal on open grassy fields, lawns, soccer fields, grassy areas of airports, meadows, dry upland prairies, farm fields, shores, riverbanks. Usually seen flying alone in erratic flight. Utters loud kill-deer call. Will pretend it has a broken wing to draw predators away from ground nest. Easily alarmed.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Fields, meadows, pastures, mud flats, freshwater margins, occasionally on coasts. Often 2 broods. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: Male courtship on ground and in air with loud calling and sham nest-scraping movements. See: Shorebird Communication.
NEST: Variable. On ground in open, with extended view, often associated with human habitation, or near little or no vegetation on soft substrate offering camouflaging stones, gravel, pebbles, etc., often far from water. Unlined or lined with local materials, occasionally well lined with grass. Male builds nest.
EGGS: 3-5 Buff, marked with blackish-brown, occasionally wreathed or capped. 1.4" (37 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Both sexes incubate. Incubation takes 24-28 days. Development is precocial (mobile, downy, follow parents, find own food). Young are able to fly after 25 days. Both sexes tend young.
DIET: About 75% insects, remainder wide variety of invertebrates; about 2% weed seeds.
CONSERVATION: Winters s to Central America, Caribbean, n South America, s w to Chile. Once locally reduced by hunting.
NOTES: Males show stronger nest-site tenacity than do females. Mates often retained in successive seasons. Incubating adults belly-soak to cool eggs in hotter part of range. Adult performs conspicuous broken-wing distraction display.
Charadrius vociferus KILLDEER. Fields, meadows, pastures, mudflats, lakes, ponds and rivers. Rarely from ec,se Alaska, n Yukon, nw Mackenzie; from s Yukon, sw,wc,sc Mackenzie and n Saskatchewan e across c Canada to c Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward I., w Nova Scotia and w Newfoundland, s to s Calif., Arizona, New Mexico, s Texas, Gulf coast, s Florida and to s Baja Calif., n,c Mexico s to Colima, n Guerrero, Michoacan, Guanajuato,s Puebla and from Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí to s Puebla. Costa Rica. W. Indies in Greater Antilles e to Virgin Is., s Bahamas; Aruba. Pacific coast of Peru and nw Chile to Arica. Winters from se Alaska and s Canada s to w,n South America and rarely to the Hawaiian Islands. Vagrant to w Europe.