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Not on Exhibit

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Charadrius vociferus

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    insects, worms and other invertebrates

  • Size

    to 10.5 inches (26.7 cm)

  • Relatives

    plovers; family Charadriidae

  • Habitat

    Beaches & Dunes

  • Range

    Southeast Alaska to central Mexico; West Indies; Peru

Natural History

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.

Cool Facts

Killdeers are easily alarmed; their piercing warning cries often panic other nearby birds.

The killdeer is the most widespread of all California shorebirds.

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