Killdeers are large plovers with distinctive red eye rings. They are brown on the top and white underneath and have 2 black breast bands and a black line through the eye.

They have long wings and tails and short thick dark bills. Males and females look the same.

  • Charadrius vociferus
  • Length: 7.9 – 11 in (20 – 28 cm)
  • Weight: 2.6 – 4.5 oz (75 – 128 g)
  • Wingspan:  18.1 – 18.9 in (46 – 48 cm)


Killdeer are year-round residents of the southern and western US states but those that breed in more northern regions migrate south for winter.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Killdeers in open habitats with little to no vegetation, like pastures, fields, sandbars, and mudflats. Killdeers may be shorebirds but they’re often seen in urban environments.. 

Killdeer forage for insects in fields and often follow cattle or plows that disturb the soil hoping to capture earthworms that rise to the surface. In shallow water environments, they will shake one leg in the water, hoping to push their prey to the surface. 

Killdeer calls:


Nests of Killdeer are usually simple, shallow scrapes with some added rocks, shells, and sticks placed on the ground in open areas. 

The female lays four to six eggs that take three or four weeks to hatch. Chicks hatch with a single black breast band. 

Fun Fact:

In order to lure predators away from their nests, Killdeers are experts at pretending to have broken wings.