The killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a year-round resident in most of the contiguous United States. Killdeer are very noisy birds and recently they seem to be even more vocal. I wonder if it has something to do with spring and the breeding season?
Killdeer are actually shorebirds of the plover family. Yet of all the plovers they probably spend the least time near the water and are rarely found along the ocean shore. Killdeer can be found near inland water bodies, agricultural fields with short vegetation and near human development.
Killdeer spend most of their time walking on the ground. They will run a few steps, stop and look around and then run again. It has been suggested that perhaps killdeer are looking for disturbed insects when they stop. When agitated they will fly overhead in circles calling loudly. One of the best practitioners of the “broken wing” ploy, killdeer will fake an injury to draw a predator away from its nest. (Pictures of this in another blog.)
Killdeer are easy to identify. They are brownish tan on top and white underneath. Two black bands cross the chest. The orbital ring surrounding a black eye is orangish red. The upper rump is an orangish color but is only visible during flight or when performing the broken-wing maneuver.
The killdeer diet is composed mostly of invertebrates – earthworms, snails, crayfish, grasshoppers, beetles and the like. However, they are opportunistic and will eat seeds and larvae from agricultural fields as well as dead minnows.
Because of its noisy nature, killdeer are also colloquially known as chatter plovers or noisy plovers.
This killdeer was feeding along the shore of Baum Lake (Shasta County CA).