Male Holsaeter's Crossbill

A Killdeer in Oklahoma.
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequorlitornithes
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Subfamily: Charadriinae
Genus: Charadrius
Species: C. vociferus
Binomial name
Charadrius vociferus
Linnaeus, 1758

North American Killdeer, C. v. vociferus
"Greater Antillean Killdeer", C. v. ternominatus
"Peruvian Killdeer", C. v. peruvianus


Oxyechus vociferus

Click for other names
Other common names Chattering Plover, Field Plover, Killdee, Killdeer Plover, Noisy Plover, Pasturebird.[2]
French Pluvier kildir
German Keilschwanz-Regenpfeifer
Spanish Chorlitejo culirrojo



Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus is a species of plover in the Charadriinae subfamily. It is closely related to the Common Ringed Plover. There are three subspecies.

Click for etymology

Charadrius is from Late Latin charadrius yellowish bird mentioned in the Vulgate Bible (late 4th century) < Greek χαραδριος kharadrios unknown plain-coloured nocturnal bird that dwelt in ravines and river valleys < χαραδρα kharadra ravine;[3] vociferus is from Latin vociferus clamorous, noisy < vociferari to shout < vox, vocis voice, cry, sound; ferre to bear.[4]




The Killdeer is a large plover, at 9–11 inches (23–28 cm).[5] It is distinctively marked with two breast bands,[2][5][6][7][8] young only have one band.[2] Sexes similar, but female tends to have browner mask and breast bands.[9]

Fairly long black tail, with a buffy-orange rump. The bill black and legs are flesh-coloured. The forehead, eye-stripe, collar on hindneck and underparts white.[5] In flight, it shows a tawny rump.[7]

Non-breeding adult has rufous and buffish brown fringes to upperparts.[9] Juveniles are like dull non-breeding adults.[9]

Race ternominatus smaller, paler and greyer; peruvianus also smaller than nominate, and has more extensive rufous feather fringes.[9]

Similar species


The back of a Killdeer, showing its black tail and brown back.

It is larger than the other ringed plovers, and easily distinguished by its two black bands.[2][5][6]

Similar to Semipalmated Plover, but is larger and white below.[2] A downy young Killdeer has one breast band and might be identified as a Wilson's Plovers by overeager birders.[6]


Generally found in as scattered individuals or small groups.[5] Seldom found in large flocks, but sometimes up to fifty.[2] It is stable and has adapted well to human encroachment.[6]


Insects, mainly beetles and flies, also grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, dragonflies, etc.; millipedes, worms, snails, spiders, crustaceans and some seeds.[9]



The Killdeer is quite vocal. Calls include several strident nasal piping notes, such as “deee”, “tyeeee” or “kil-deee” (hence its name), repeated.[9] When it's agitated, several notes given in more rapid sequence such as “keee-di-di-di” or longer trilled series.[9] In its display flight, a continuously repeated similar-sounding “kil-deer” or “kee-deeyu”.[9] In alarm utters a long fast trill, “trrrrrrrrr”.[9]


May feign injury near its nest to distract intruders,[8] or fly into the faces of livestock.[2]


File:Future Parents - Killdeers mating.png

It is common in fields and pastures,

[8] grassy or plowed fields[7] and golf courses,[5] often far from water[5][8] but may be found in marshy fields.[7]

In the United States[9] It is found Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington DC, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In Canada[9] It is found in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon. It is also found in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

In Middle America[9] Northern and Southern Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

In the Caribbean[9] Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.

In South America[9] It is found in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

It is a vagrant to the Azores, France[real world]/Devonshire[alt. univ.], Galapagos Islands, Great Britain, Greenland, Grenada, Hawaiian Islands, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Madeira Islands, Martinique, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela.[9]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Charadrius vociferus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Terres, John K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394466519. 
  3. ^ Jobling, J. (2015). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.), eds. "Charadrius". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Retrieved 1-8-15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Jobling, J. (2015). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.), eds. "vociferus". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Retrieved 1-8-15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Ridgely, Robert and John A. Gwynne Jr. (1989). A Guide to the Birds of Panama with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691025126. 
  6. ^ a b c d Dunn, Jon L. and Alderfer, Jonathan (2011). National Geographic Completely Birds of North America. National Geographic Society. ISBN 9781426213731. 
  7. ^ a b c d Garrigues, Richard and Dean, Robert (2007). The Birds of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical Publication. ISBN 9780801473739. 
  8. ^ a b c d Robbins, Chandler S.; Bertel Bruun, Herbet S. Zim and Arthur Singer (illu.) (1983). A Guide to Field Indentification: Birds of North America. Western Publishing Company. ISBN 0307336565. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Wiersma, P. & Boesman, P. (2013). Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2013). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 August 2015).

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