Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Range: North America, Central America and northern South America (Peru & northern Chile). Found in a variety of habitats including grassland, lawns and areas of dried mud. Non-breeding birds may form small parties. Birds from the north move southwards in winter. Occasionally reaches Europe as a vagrant (more than 60 records), generally in late November through to late March and mostly in the west (Britain and Azores). Arrival during the winter may reflect birds that have displaced by freezing weather in North America.

This spectacular but noisy shorebird is a familiar sight in North America. Potential predators are mobbed from the air, the bird uttering it strident drawn out "kill deee, dee dee" call. The last syllable may be repeated multiple times. May also utter agitated "dee dee dee".

Fig. 1. A large 'ringed plover', longer legged and winged than Semipalmated/Ringed Plover. Easily recognized in its range by the double black breast bands and long tail which projects beyond wing tips. Shows a prominent white wing stripe in flight, just visible here as the bird droops its wing slightly.

Fig. 2. Detail of the head. Notice the crimson red eye ring.

Fig. 3. This view highlights the long tail. The tips are heavily abraded in this bird (pre-basic molt?) and strangely appear tipped in orange! Although not visible, the uppertail coverts are orange. The scapulars are neatly edged in rufous-brown.

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All text and images copyright of Angus Wilson© 2002