Charadrius vociferus


One of the most familiar shorebirds, the Killdeer is a robin-sized plover with two complete dark bands across its neck and chest and pale legs in all seasons. A bright red eye ring is visible during the breeding season. The orange-brown rump is obvious as the bird tries to lure intruders from its nest or chicks with a “broken wing” distraction display. Historically called the Chattering or Noisy Plover, the “killdeer” call is distinct.


The double breast band on this plover is diagnostic among the plovers found in the region. Downy Killdeer young show a single breast band at hatching. However, by the time they have attained juvenal plumage at about 17 days, they sport both bands.


Killdeer are found during the breeding season throughout the Great Plains in short grass habitats, agricultural areas and mudflats. Gravel is a preferred nesting substrate and Killdeer are often found nesting along roads. They winter from the southern Great Plains through northern South America. Migrants are seen throughout the region.