Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

The killdeer, Charadrius vociferus, breeds across Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, and western South America. Populations in the northern portion of the breeding range migrate south for winter, to areas from southwestern Canada to northern South America. The species is common year-round in Utah, where it is most often seen in fields, pastures, and riparian areas.

Nests are built on the ground in open areas. The female lays a clutch of three to five eggs that is then incubated by both parents for 24 to 30 days. The young, which are tended by both parents, fledge at about 25 days of age. A second brood is sometimes produced after the first brood leaves the nest. When approached by humans or other perceived threats, the killdeer will attempt to lure the threat away from its nest by pretending to be wounded and running away from the nest site.

The killdeer eats insects and other invertebrates that are captured on the ground or in shallow water.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.