AskDefine | Define killdeer

Dictionary Definition

killdeer n : American plover of inland waters and fields having a distinctive cry [syn: kildeer, killdeer plover, Charadrius vociferus]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈkɪɫdɪə/, /ˈkɪɫdɪɹ/


  1. A North American plover (Charadrius vociferus) with a distinctive cry and territorial behavior that includes feigning injury to distract interlopers from the nest.


Extensive Definition

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium-sized plover.
Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red eyering. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around right after hatching. The Killdeer frequently use a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest.


Their breeding habitat is open fields or lawns, often quite far from water, across most of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, with isolated populations in Costa Rica and Peru. Killdeer nest on open ground, often on gravel. They may use a slight depression in the gravel to hold the eggs, but they don't line it at all, or line it only with a few stones. Since there is no structure to stand out from its surroundings, a killdeer nest blends marvelously into the background. Furthermore, the speckled eggs themselves look like stones.
Killdeer hatchlings are precocial birds like many other waders. Birds which hatch blind, naked, and helpless are called altricial. Most birds are born altricial and utterly rely on their parents to bring them food.
Precocial birds stay in the egg twice as long as altricial birds, so they have more time to develop. A one-day-old Killdeer chick is actually two weeks more developed than a one-day-old American Robin nestling. Although adult Robins and Killdeer are the same size, a Killdeer's egg is twice the size of a Robin's. There is more nourishment in the Killdeer egg, to sustain the embryo for its longer time in the shell.
They are migratory in northern areas and winter as far south as northern South America. They are rare vagrants to western Europe, usually late in the year.
These birds forage for food in fields, mudflats, and shores, usually by sight. They mainly eat insects.
Their name comes from their frequently heard call. These birds will frequently use the "broken-wing act" to distract predators from their nests. This involves the bird walking away from its nesting area holding its wing in a position that simulates an injury and then flapping around on the ground emitting a distress call. The predators then think they have easy prey and are attracted to this seemingly injured bird and away from the nest. If the parent sees that a potential predator is not following them, they will move closer and get louder until they get the attention of the predator.
Their ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat has helped keep them common and widespread in their range.


  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

External links

killdeer in Danish: Kildire
killdeer in German: Keilschwanz-Regenpfeifer
killdeer in Spanish: Charadrius vociferus
killdeer in Esperanto: Kripluvio
killdeer in French: Pluvier kildir
killdeer in Galician: Píllara rabirrubia
killdeer in Hungarian: Ékfarkú lile
killdeer in Norwegian: Tobeltelo
killdeer in Polish: Sieweczka krzykliwa
killdeer in Portuguese: Borrelho-de-dupla-coleira
killdeer in Finnish: Amerikantylli
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1