Bird Database


(Charadrius vociferus)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance


Strongly Decreasing


Pesticides, Habitat loss, Unknown

Conservation Actions

More data are needed on population trends and magnitudes of threats


(Charadrius vociferus)

The Killdeer is probably our most familiar shorebird. It can be found statewide, often occurs far from water, and has a loud and distinctive call. Although today they can be found in all manner of human-created habitats, including golf courses, agricultural fields, gravel pits, and even rooftops, this was clearly not always the case. Prior to European colonization Killdeer were probably restricted to coastal and freshwater shorelines, where they nested on sand or gravel beaches. The species adapted quickly, and by the early 1800s was widespread at least in eastern North America. Now the species seems to be declining in many areas. Reasons are unknown but could include changes to agricultural practices, including pesticides.

Like all plovers, the Killdeer lays four eggs directly on the ground in a shallow scrape. Even though they are typically in the open, nests can be hard to find because the eggs blend in well with the dirt or gravel around them. Even an incubating bird (both sexes do this) can be hard to see, partially because the bold black bands across the breast serve to break up her profile – a type of camouflage known as “disruptive coloration.” If you venture too close to a nest however, the bird will undertake one of two anti-predator displays to lure you away. In the first of these, the Killdeer will crouch on the ground as if settling on eggs, sometimes while making soft calls. If this fails, and the eggs are increasingly threatened, it will become more vocal and shift to a broken-wing display. This entails the Killdeer flopping around on the ground with its wings out and tail spread, only to recover and move a little farther ahead before feigning injury again. Birds will also perform this display if there are young chicks present.

Killdeer chicks hatch after an incubation period of 3-4 weeks and can run and feed themselves almost immediately. They look like tiny downy versions of their parents, although with only a single dark band across the breast. While still small, they are brooded by the adults during cool or shaded when it is hot, but after 5-6 weeks they can fly and are typically ready to fend for themselves.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count