Published on February 15, 2013 by Amy
The killdeer has brown upper feathers and white undersides. It has a a brown head with a black band between its eyes, white “eyebrows” and black bands around its upper chest. It has a sharp black bill, long legs and a long tail. Males and females look the same.
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The killdeer breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland south. It winters north to British Columbia, Utah, the Ohio Valley and Massachusetts. It also is found in Central and South America.
The killdeer can be found in open grasslands, wetlands, fields, croplands and pastures, and short-grass prairies.
Male killdeers claim nesting territory before selecting a mate. To attract a mate, the male will stand in his territory and make a two-note call for hours at a time. The male may also scrape at the ground and fly over his territory. Once killdeers have mated, the male will scrape out a nesting site. The female killdeer lays four eggs in a depression in the ground. Both the male and the female incubate the eggs. It takes about 24-28 days for the eggs to hatch. The chicks fledge in about a month. The killdeer may have two broods a year.
The killdeer sometimes distracts predators from its nest by pretending to be injured. It drags itself along the ground, sometimes on one foot, dragging its wings like they are broken. When the predator turns it attention to the killdeer and away from the nest, the killdeer flies away.