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Charadrius vociferus



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae

Physical Characteristics

About 9-11 inches (23-28 cm) long. The legs and feet are buff colored, the beak is dark and pointed (Peterson, 1990). The forehead, eye stripe, collar, underparts, and wing linings are white; the neck has two black bands. Both sexes appear the same year-round (Ligon, 1961).


Charadrius vociferus is found near lakes, ponds, and streams (Ligon, 1961). Fields, airports, and lawns also are likely locales (Peterson, 1990).

Geographic Range

This species is found primarily in North America from Alaska east to British Columbia, south throughout the remainder of North America, Middle America, northern South America west of the Andes to western Ecuador and eastward to northern Venezuela to include Bermuda, the West Indies, and most of the off-shore islands of northern South America (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).


C. vociferus feeds on insects, grubs, and worms; hence its preference for fields, gardens, and lawns (Forbush and May, 1955).

Reproductive Characteristics

The female makes her nest on the ground in a slight hollow in the center or along the edges of gravely roadways or lakeside trails. The nest is lined with small gravel, bits of grass, or weed stems. This setting provides an almost perfect camouflage for the eggs. Usually four eggs are laid; they are dull buffy-colored with heavily marked streaks of dark brown, black, and lavender (Ligon, 1961). The young closely resemble their parents and are able to forage for their own food almost immediately after hatching (Forbush and May, 1955).


The Killdeer is also known as the Killdeer Plover, Kildee, and Meadow Plover. This species protects itself by feigning injury in order to distract its enemies and then rapidly escaping in flight or on the run (Forbush and May, 1955). Their common name is derived from their calls which are a loud, insistent kill-deeah or a plaintive dee-dee-dee (Peterson, 1990).

Literature Cited

American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.

Forbush, E. H., and J. B. May. 1955. A natural history of American birds of eastern and central North America. Bramhall House, New York, 552 pp.

Ligon, J. S. 1961. New Mexico birds and where to find them. The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 360 pp.

Peterson, R. T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.

Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996.


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