Skip to content


Killdeer in breeding condition
All photos on this web page © Bob Gress


Common Name: Killdeer

Scientific Name: Charadrius vociferus

Length: 9 1/4 - 10 1/2 inches

Wingspan: 23 1/2 - 25 1/4 inches


Killdeer using "broken wing" display


Description: 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.

Similar Species: 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.

Young Killdeer


Comments: 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.