If the colorful landscape were not enough to signify that spring is here, now you can view some of the early season migrating birds returning to our area, such as the killdeer (Charadrius vociferous.) Killdeer can be found across the U.S. A resident or medium-distance migrant, our region’s birds tend to spend the winter in Mexico and are some of the earliest to return home in spring.  In the southern United States and Pacific coast, Killdeer are year-round residents.

This member of the shorebird family gets its name from the shrill “killdeer” call it makes when excited.  Killdeer have the characteristic large, round head, large eye, and short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings. They have a brownish-tan on top and white below. The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches. The bright orange-buff rump is conspicuous in flight. 

Despite being a shorebird, the killdeer can be found throughout a wide range of landscapes where the ground is disturbed, muddy, or the grass is short.  Killdeers can be spotted on fields, lawns, vacant lots, golf courses, or any area where the ground is uncluttered.  The killdeer likes to run along the ground in search of insects, worms, snails, or other delicacies.  This bird is also a good swimmer and can navigate water well in search of aquatic insects, frogs, or small fish. 

The killdeer lays its eggs on the ground and places rocks and twigs around the nest to camouflage the eggs somewhat.  If you approach a killdeer nest, the birds will try to lure you away from the eggs using a broken wing display; they will miraculously get better and fly away once you are far enough away. 

Article by Sonia Demiray 5/12/2023