How to Identify a Killdeer Bird

Learn how to identify a killdeer bird. Discover what the birds look like and get facts about their nests, eggs, sound and more.

Roland Jordahl

Kildeer Information

Scientific Name: Charadrius vociferus.
Family: Plover.
Length: 10-1/2 inches.
Wingspan: 24 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Brown back, white neck ring, two black bands across a white breast and a long tail with an orange rump that shows only in flight or display.

Killdeer Nest and Eggs

kildeer Albert Myran 001Courtesy Albert Myran
Baby killdeer chick at Peaceful Valley Ranch in Theodore Roosevelt National Park – South Unit

This bird does not make a nest. Four eggs, heavily marked with brown spots, scrawls and blotches, are placed on open ground, where they blend in with the surroundings. To attract them to your backyard, offer a protected gravel area where it can lay its eggs. When something approaches its nest, the killdeer spreads its wings and tail, scolds and may even fly at it. If a potential predator comes very near, the bird tries to lure it away by playing wounded.

What Does a Killdeer Eat?

Insects, and occasionally earthworms, crayfish and weed seeds.

Killdeer Song

Listen to the Killdeer’s song. Their voice is a noisy call of “kill-dee” and repeats “dee-dee-dee.”

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Range Map and Habitat

Learn where to spot a killdeer. Look for these birds on lawns, cemeteries, parking lots, golf courses and cultivated fields, usually away from water.

Killdeer Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.