Everything You Need to Know About a Killdeer Bird

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

What Does a Killdeer Look Like?

Roland Jordahl

To identify a killdeer, look for distinctive markings. They have a 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. The adults measure 10-1/2 inches in length with a wingspan of 24 inches.

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Killdeer Facts

  • Scientific Name: Charadrius vociferus
  • Common name: Killdeer
  • Family: Plover

Nest and Eggs

egg facts, Killdeer Standing Over Nest With EggsJoe McDonald/Getty Images
The speckled eggs are well camouflaged

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.

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What Does a Killdeer Eat?

killdeerCourtesy Timothy Miller
These birds nest on open ground

These birds do not visit bird feeders. They primarily eat insects, and occasionally earthworms, crayfish and weed seeds.

Killdeer Song

Listen to their song. Their voice is a noisy call of “kill-dee” and repeats “dee-dee-dee.”

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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Range Map and Habitat

kildeer Albert Myran 001Courtesy Albert Myran
Chick at Peaceful Valley Ranch in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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.