Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), prefer open ground with low vegetation, typically inhabiting golf courses, fields, sandbars and mudflats, making them the least water-associated of all wading shorebirds. A relatively noisy bird, Killdeer received their name from the shrill, wailing “kill-deer” call they make.
A member of the plover family of avian, Killdeer are relatively diminutive, about equal in size to the American Robin. Killdeer possess small round heads, short bills and bodies accentuated by long pointed tails and slender wings. Their coloration is brownish-tan on top with a white breast barred with two black bands and a brown face is marked with black and white patches. The rump is accentuated by a bright orange rump that is apparent in flight.
The range of the Killdeer includes most of the western hemisphere, including the Yukon and Alaska to as far south as Peru. Due to its ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat areas Killdeer have managed to survive despite widespread disturbance through their range by man.
In April, the female constructs a small ground nest comprised of stones and grass. Into this shallow bowl, the female will lay four or five blackish-brown eggs that virtually disappear into the surroundings, protecting them from predators. Both the male and female will take turns incubating them for the next 24 to 26 days before they are ready to hatch.
Killdeer will employ a “distraction display” when they feel their brood being threatened by predators. This involves the bird walking away from its nest pretending that it is injured and emitting a distress call. Once the Killdeer feels it has lured a potential predatory threat far enough from its nest it safely flies away from the predator and returns to its nest. If this display is not effective in distracting prey, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the threatening animal in a desperate attempt to chase it away.
Wildlife Quiz Questions
1. What is the preferred habit of the Killdeer?
2. How did the Killdeer receive its name?
3. What family of avian are Killdeer members?
4. What is the primary range of the Killdeer?
5. How many eggs does a Killdeer typically lay?
6. How long does it take for the eggs to incubate?
7. What do Killdeer typically do when they feel their nest is threatened?
8. Are Killdeer nests located in trees or on the ground?
Wildlife Quiz Answers
1. Killdeer prefer areas of open ground with low vegetation.
2. The Killdeer received its name from its shrill, wailing “kill-deer” call.
3. Killdeer are members of the plover family.
4. The range of the Killdeer includes most of the Western Hemisphere.
5. Killdeer typically lay 4-5 blackish-brown eggs.
6. Killdeer eggs incubate in 24-26 days.
7. When their nest is threatened Killdeer use a “distraction display” to lure away predators.
8. Killdeer nests are located on the ground.