Killdeer

Charadrius vociferus
A Killdeer specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

Resembling a much larger Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), the Killdeer is most easily identified by its size (9-11 inches), brown back, two black breast bands, and orange-brown rump. Other field marks include its gray-green legs, black bill, and red eye ring. Male and female Killdeers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Killdeer breeds across the United States and southern Canada. Birds breeding in coastal areas and in the interior south are non-migratory, while birds breeding further north migrate south to Central America in winter. Other non-migratory populations occur in Mexico, Peru, and the West Indies. Less associated with water than most of its relatives, the Killdeer inhabits a number of open habitat types, including grasslands, mudflats, and gravel deposits. Also utilizes numerous man-made environments, such as fields, golf courses, and airports. The Killdeer eats small invertebrates, primarily worms and insects, but may consume plant matter when prey is scarce. Killdeers may be most easily observed while foraging for food, when it may be seen probing the soil with their bills or running across the surface to catch prey. Nesting Killdeer may also be observed feigning broken wings to lure intruders away from the nest site. This species is mainly active during the day, but frequently feeds at night when insects are plentiful.

DC Information

Common summer resident, arriving in March, departing in November, although some may remain through winter. Breeds mid-March to late July. Found in short grass fields, agricultural areas, mud flats, and along shorelines. The sexes are alike; there is no seasonal change in plumage.

Specimen Information

Date: 4/17/1912
Collected By: Henry R Marshall
Locality: Laurel, MD
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 233682

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Charadrius vociferus

Charadrius vociferus

Sound from xeno-canto. XC16957 Charadrius vociferus (Killdeer)

Images