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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Killdeer -- Charadrius vociferus

RANGE: Breeds from east-central and southeastern Alaska and southern Yukon to central Quebec and western Newfoundland, south to Mexico. Winters from southern British Columbia across the central United States to New England and south throughout the remainder of North America to South America.

STATUS: Common throughout range.

HABITAT: Indiscriminately occupies open areas, but favors open dry uplands, meadows, pastures, and disturbed or heavily grazed areas where grass is short, sparse, or absent. In winter, inhabits open fields, beaches, along watercourses, and on mudflats.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open areas with closely cropped or sparse vegetation.

NEST: Nests in a scrape on gravelly or bare ground, occasionally on a flat or gently sloping roof of a building, often with a few pebbles, grasses, or weeds in the scrape.

FOOD: Prey is snatched or gleaned from the surface of dry or moist ground or from very shallow water. Eats a diet that is mainly insects, especially grasshoppers, beetles, and dragonflies, but also includes centipedes, spiders, worms, snails, crayfish, and weed seeds.

REFERENCES: Cramp and Simmons 1983, DeGraff et al. 1980, Palmer 1967, Terres 1980.

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