|Conservation status||Despite local declines in some urbanized areas, still widespread and abundant.|
|Habitat||Fields, airports, lawns, river banks, mudflats, shores. Often found on open ground, such as pastures, plowed fields, large lawns, even at a great distance from water. Most successful nesting areas, however, have some shallow water or other good feeding area for the chicks. Also commonly found around water, on mudflats, lake shores, coastal estuaries.|
Typically they run a few steps and then pause, then run again, pecking at the ground whenever they spot something edible. May follow farmers plowing fields, to feed on grubs turned up by the plow.
Usually 4, sometimes 3-5. Buff, blotched with black and brown. Incubation is by both parents, 24-28 days. In very hot climates, adults shade eggs in mid-day, may soak belly feathers to help cool eggs. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Young are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. Age of young at first flight roughly 25 days. In some warmer parts of range, Killdeers raise 2 broods per year.
Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Young are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. Age of young at first flight roughly 25 days. In some warmer parts of range, Killdeers raise 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, fly larvae, many others; also eats spiders, earthworms, centipedes, crayfish, snails. Eats small amounts of seeds as well.
In breeding season, male flies high over nesting territory in floating, wavering flight, with slow, deep wingbeats, giving kill-dee call repeatedly. On ground, courtship displays include ritualized nest-scrape making. Nest site is on ground in open area with good visibility, as on bare soil, short-grass field, gravel road; sometimes on gravel roof. Nest is shallow scrape in soil or gravel, either unlined or lined with pebbles, grass, twigs, bits of debris.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migratory in north, may be permanent resident in south. Spring migration is very early, returning to some northern areas in February or March.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA shrill kill-deee, fill-deee or killdeer, killdeer. Also dee-dee-dee.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Killdeer
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Killdeer
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.