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Killdeer

Charadrius vociferus ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: CHARADRIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A shorebird you can see without going to the beach, Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.

Jane Kim Mural
Yard Map Birds Eye View

Backyard Tips

Doesn’t visit feeders, but if your backyard or neighborhood contains expansive, cultivated lawns or grazed fields then you could find Killdeer foraging on your property.

Find This Bird

Killdeer are surprisingly unobtrusive even on green lawns, despite their warm tawny coloration. Look carefully over lawns, short-mown fields, and even parking lots, and listen for the far-carrying kill-deer. (When you hear this call, the bird may be in flight. Look for it circling you, flying stiffly on long, pointed wings. It may resemble an American Kestrel, at least until it lands on the ground and begins walking.) Though they're often found on dry land, you should also look for them on the edges of freshwater ponds and muddy lagoons.

Get Involved

You can help scientists learn more about this species by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds! project.

Report observations of nesting birds to NestWatch

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Visit the NestCams archives to watch killdeer at their nest.

Q & A: What to Do with a Lost Baby Killdeer

A Naturalist's Notebook: Displaying Killdeer, Living Bird, summer 2013