Killdeer

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The killdeer is a noisy plover with black and white breast stripes. Reddish back. It can be found in fields, stony dry areas as well as around water. The killdeer is a medium-sized plover.

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. They have an orange-red eye ring.

Their breeding habitat is open fields or lawns, often quite far from water, across most of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, with isolated populations in Costa Rica and Peru. The Pacific Northwest Coastal Region has a very large population of Killdeer.

Killdeer will pair up on the nesting grounds, and some nest together for more than 1 season. Both adults help in building the nest, a simple scrape in the ground, lined with grass, weeds and feathers.
Killdeer, Photo By Robert Logan

They nest on the ground in an open area with a clear line of sight, or on a gravel roof. They are migratory in northern areas and winter as far south as northern South America.

They are rare vagrants to western Europe, usually late in the year. These birds forage for food in fields, mudflats, and shores, usually by sight. They mainly eat insects.

Their name comes from their call, frequently heard. These birds will frequently use the “broken wing act” to distract predators from their nests. Their ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat has helped keep them common and widespread in their range.

Baby Killdeer
Baby Killdeer, Sayward, photo by Bud Logan

Killdeer will pair up on the nesting grounds, and some nest together for more than 1 season. Both adults help in building the nest, a simple scrape in the ground, lined with grass, weeds, and feathers. Scrapes are located in soil or gravel in an open area. Females typically lay up to 4 eggs. Both sexes take turns incubating them, with males incubating more often during the night. The young are tended by both parents. A pair may raise more than one brood a season.

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