photo © Paul Rentz

Cool facts

  • Killdeer are skilled actors and will try to lure potential predators away from their nests by pretending to have a broken-wing. They will also practice “false-brooding” if a predator is nearby, where the adult will settle down as if to brood at a site where there are no eggs or chicks.
  • Gravel rooftops attract Killdeer for nesting, but they can be dangerous. Chicks may be unable to leave a roof because of high parapets and screened drain openings. When adults lure chicks off the roof, the chicks may die from the fall. However, some chicks have been observed leaping from a seven-story building and surviving. Learn more about their nests and eggs here.

Sound

Call is a loud piercing “kill-deer.”
To listen to the songs of this species check out the ‘How to Identify’ section of its Focal Species page.

Habitat

Found in open grassy areas and sandbars, gravel parking lots, and rooftops.

Food

Mostly insects, also earthworms and snails.

Did you know?

  • Because Killdeer commonly use gravel rooftops and parking lots for their nesting sites, they frequently have to work to keep their eggs cool. If the eggs get too warm, an adult will stand over them to shade them from the sun. If temperatures increase, Killdeer will dip their breast-feathers in nearby water and cool the eggs by wetting them.
  • Killdeer are willing to live and nest close to people. Because they live so close to people, however, they are vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and collisions with cars and buildings.