Sandpiper-like Birds

Killdeer Killdeer
Charadrius vociferus


9-11" (23-28 cm). Our largest "ringed" plover. Brown above and white below, with 2 black bands across breast, long legs, and relatively long tail. In flight, shows rusty uppertail coverts and rump.


A shrill kill-deee, fill-deee or killdeer, killdeer. Also dee-dee-dee.


Open country generally: plowed fields, golf courses, and short-grass prairies.


4 pale buff eggs, spotted with blackish brown, in a shallow depression lined with grass on bare ground.


Breeds from Alaska east across continent to Newfoundland and southward. Winters north to British Columbia, Utah, Ohio Valley, and Massachusetts. Also in South America.


This noisy plover is probably our best-known shorebird. Few golf courses or extensive vacant lots are without their breeding pair of Killdeers. If a predator approaches, a nesting Killdeer performs a conspicuous distraction display, dragging itself as if mortally wounded, often on one foot, its wings seemingly broken and its rusty tail fanned toward the intruder. This feigning of injury is effective in luring the predator away from the eggs or young, at which point the bird then "recovers" and flies off, calling loudly.