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Killdeer (nest / eggs / chicks)

Charadrius vociferus


The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover. Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red eyering. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around right after hatching. The killdeer frequently uses a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest. The name of killdeer is imitative of its cry.


This nest, as you can see, is nothing more than an indentation in the loose rocks that adorn the roof of a building at Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum. The mother killdeer has been seen regularly performing the "broken wing" theatrics, trying to get me away from the nest. (which is how it was discovered in the first place)

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Aaron_G 11 years ago

Thanks, J. This was a fun series because I got to check on the nest each day at work. I later saw the chicks on the ground with their mother, but never got photos of them together before they disappeared.

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 11 years ago

What a fantastic series, Aaron! What beautiful birds! I've yet to photograph them. :)

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 12 years ago

In Avian Architecture (Goodfellow) it says this about killdeer nests:
"The nest is usually sited on a bare, sandy, or gravelly area, and the killdeer's four eggs are laid pointed ends inward in a shallow scrape or depression. The scrape is commonly unlined, or sparsely lined with a few plant fragments, wood chips, or pebbles, all of which are gathered nearby." Exactly like your wonderful spotting.

Aaron_G 12 years ago

Spotting updated with new photos. I changed the "broken wing" image (#3) and added a photo of the first hatchlings. Early in the day these two had hatched, and by afternoon the other two were also out of their eggs (5/23/12). I will try to update this spotting one more time with an image of the chicks down on the ground. They have run themselves off the roof and are down on the ground with their parents as of this afternoon (5/24/12).

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 12 years ago

Very nice additions!

matthewryanre 12 years ago

One of the most memorable times of my life was happening upon a Killdeer family and seeing the father act as if it was injured, then seeing the mother and young on the other side of the road.

Aaron_G 12 years ago

I updated this series with photo #4 being the broken wing trick, and photo #5 showing the female sitting on the nest.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 12 years ago

I've often encountered these "nests" on riverine gravel bars (Missouri) invariably alerted to their presence by the broken wing dance :-)

Aaron_G 12 years ago

This nest now has 4 eggs.

Aaron_G 12 years ago

This nest is approximately 15 feet off the ground and on an exposed rooftop with no cover. I've never seen anything quite like it!

Spotted by

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Spotted on Apr 24, 2012
Submitted on Apr 25, 2012

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