Killdeer adultKilldeer are shorebirds, but land-loving ones. You will often find killdeer on pastures and farmland, as well as along the shores of lakes, oceans, and rivers.

Flying overhead, the killdeer shows how it got its name. It calls out "Kill-deer!"

Q: What is a killdeer nest like?

The nest is minimal -- almost nothing more than the eggs themselves. Killdeer lay their eggs in a depression on the ground, usually in gravel. Occasionally the depression is lined with a few pebbles, twigs, or blades of grass. Sometimes killdeer nest on graveled roofs.

Killdeer eggsQ: How many eggs do killdeer lay?

Usually there are 4, or sometimes 3 or 5. Killdeer eggs are blotchy and look like pebbles. Each egg is a bit pointed at one end, so that the four eggs fit neatly and help keep each other in place.

Both the male and female killdeer sit on the eggs to incubate them. They take turns. Incubation lasts for 24-28 days.

Q: What do killdeer eat?

Insects, mostly. They like beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and fly larvae. They'll also take other non-insect "bugs" such as spiders, worms, snails, and crayfish. They eat a few weed seeds, but these make up only about 2% of the killdeer diet.

Q: How do I get more info on killdeer?

The Precocious Killdeer tells how the baby killdeer "come out running" when they hatch. It also describes the killdeer's broken-wing display and tells you how to find baby killdeer in the summertime.

--Diane Porter

The Essential Killdeer

Common name: Killdeer

Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus

Summer range: All of N. America, east to west, except 
              extreme Arctic north

Winter range: Withdraws from northern North America. 
              Extends south into Chile.

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