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Killdeer Charadrius vociferus


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credit: Clinton & Charles Robertson /CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Charadriidae, Plovers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly brown upperparts and white underparts, but note the two black breast bands (upper one continues as a narrow collar) and striking black and white markings on face (black forecrown, and white forehead and supercilium). Bill is slender and dark, and legs are pale. Tail darkens toward tip, but note the terminal white margin. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but black elements of plumage are brown or dark brown and initially, for brief period, it has just one breast band.

Dimensions Length: 9-11" (23-28 cm)

Habitat Common and widespread in summer across much of the region south of the Arctic, favoring short grassy areas, including urban sites, such as roadside verges, golf courses, parks, and playing fields. Migrates south in fall and winters in southern half of region. Seen in the vicinity of water far less frequently than most shorebird family members.

Observation Tips Easy to see and identify.

Range California, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Texas, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Florida, Western Canada, Alaska, Southeast, Eastern Canada

Voice Utters a shrill, piping kiu-dee or tee-dee-dee.

Discussion Boldly marked, long-legged, and noisy plover. The two black breast bands are striking and diagnostic. Long wings and tail give standing bird a more elongated appearance. Feeds in characteristic plover manner: runs at speed for short distances, then pauses to pick invertebrate prey from ground. In flight, its long wings with a bold white wing stripe, and long, wedge-shaped tail with an orange rump are striking features. Sexes are similar.