The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium-sized plover.
The 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. The eyering orange-red. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around immediately after hatching. The Killdeer frequently uses a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest. It is named onomatopoeically after its call.
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 and 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. Although Killdeer are considered shorebirds, they often live far from water. They live in grassland habitats such as fields, meadows, and pastures. The nest itself is merely a shallow depression or bowl in the ground, fringed by some stones and blades of grass. The nest is well camouflaged, as the spots of the eggs disguise them as stones, and the simple structure of the nest resembles its surroundings. Like many other waders, Killdeer hatchlings are precocial birds and are able to see and forage soon after hatching.
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.
Their ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat has helped keep them common and widespread in their range.
Bird call of the Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
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Adult protecting its offspring in Minnesota
Juvenile in New Jersey
Chick shortly after hatching, Minnesota
- BirdLife International (2012). "Charadrius vociferus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper
- "Killdeer Range Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-03-11
- Loftin, Robert W. (2003). "Killdeer Charadrius vociferus". Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
- Hiller, Ilo (2008). "Killdeer". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
- Porter, Diane (1997). "The Precocious Killdeer". Birdwatching.com. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
- "Killdeer". Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2011-3-1.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Killdeer|
- Killdeer Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Killdeer at Enature.com - enature.com
- Killdeer videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection
- Killdeer Charadrius vociferus - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
- Killdeer Fact Sheet Hinterland Who's Who - Killdeer Fact Sheet; thorough overview of Killdeer produced by the Canadian Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Federation
- Killdeer Bird Sound