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The Crafty Killdeer

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Killdeer are a common bird in the United States, and they live all across our country. They are shorebirds, which means they live near water. However, killdeer are one of a few shorebirds that are often seen away from water.

Photo via Shutterstock

These birds are brown with white bellies. They also have two black bands on their upper chest. They have a tricky way of keeping their eggs safe. If a person or animal walks toward its nest, a killdeer will pretend it has a broken wing to draw the suspected threat away.

Here’s some more information about these interesting birds.

Fun Facts

  • Killdeer belong to the plover family of birds. They are about the size of a robin, but they have longer legs and a wider wingspan. They also have big eyes and short bills.

  • These are noisy birds, and they got their name from their call. It sounds like they are saying kill-deer or kill-dee.

  • Killdeer live in many types of habitats, including grassland, prairie, sandy areas and mudflats. They prefer the ground to have either very short grass or vegetation or no vegetation at all.

  • All birds are lightweight because they have hollow bones. A killdeer typically weighs between 2.5 ounces and 4.5 ounces. For comparison, a baseball weighs 5 ounces.

  • Most birds fly away when threatened by humans or animals. A killdeer will usually run away instead of flying away.

  • These birds primarily eat insects. They also sometimes eat crayfish, snails and plant seeds.

  • We usually think of birds as building nests in trees, but killdeer build their nests on the ground. Both the male and female killdeer help build the nest.

  • A female killdeer almost always lays four eggs in a nest, although sometimes she may lay three or five.


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