insects, worms and other invertebrates
to 10.5 inches (26.7 cm)
plovers; family Charadriidae
Southeast Alaska to central Mexico; West Indies; Peru
A killdeer scrapes out a shallow nest on the ground. The black-and-white bands on a killdeer's head and neck make it harder to see as it sits quietly. If a predator does loom too near, the bird launches into its "broken wing" charade: dragging itself off, one wing twisted against its back, to lure the predator away from its young.
Tread lightly when you visit beaches and dunes; don't uproot the plants or take animals from their homes. In this fragile ecosystem, the damage we do in a day can take years to recover.
Killdeeers are easily alarmed; their piercing warning cries often panic other nearby birds.
The killdeer is the most widespread of all California shorebirds.