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Living Sanibel: Killdeer

By Staff | Jun 1, 2012


Perhaps most famous for its loud, familiar call, killdeeahdeedee, the killdeer’s scientific name aptly describes its behavior: vociferous, meaning loud and vocal. Often found in pastures and open fields, the killdeer is a fairly large plover that frequents uplands, as well as beaches. Larger than the Wilson’s plover, the killdeer is most easily recognized by its double-banded neck and its distinctive call.

One of the most successful of all plovers, the killdeer is an example of an animal that not only has learned to adapt to the ways of man, but also flourishes in any number of urban or suburban environments. It nests in baseball fields, gravel rooftops, railroad yards, and scores of similarly unlikely locations. Because of this adaptation, the killdeer is prone to pesticide poisoning, and traffic and window collisions, among a host of other metropolitan dangers. Despite some losses, the killdeer population continues to expand its range, reaching all the way from the northern fringe of Chile to British Columbia.

The killdeer’s diet consists almost entirely of insects, but it will also take small crustaceans and an occasional seed. It is a solitary nester and will feign a broken wing if you approach too near to its nesting locale. Its tiny chicks rely completely on camouflage to survive to adulthood.