Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Killdeer

Killdeer
Charadrius vociferus
Sandpiper-like Birds | Family: Plovers, Charadriidae

An estimated 7% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

This noisy plover is probably our best-known shorebird. Few golf courses or extensive vacant lots are without their breeding pair of Killdeers. If a predator approaches, a nesting Killdeer performs a conspicuous distraction display, dragging itself as if mortally wounded, often on one foot, its wings seemingly broken and its rusty tail fanned toward the intruder. This feigning of injury is effective in luring the predator away from the eggs or young, at which point the bird then "recovers" and flies off, calling loudly.

Description

9-11" (23-28 cm). Our largest "ringed" plover. Brown above and white below, with 2 black bands across breast, long legs, and relatively long tail. In flight, shows rusty uppertail coverts and rump.

Voice

A shrill kill-deee, fill-deee or killdeer, killdeer. Also dee-dee-dee.

Nesting

4 pale buff eggs, spotted with blackish brown, in a shallow depression lined with grass on bare ground.

Habitat

Open country generally: plowed fields, golf courses, and short-grass prairies.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska east across continent to Newfoundland and southward. Winters north to British Columbia, Utah, Ohio Valley, and Massachusetts. Also in South America.