A Killdeer is a large plover with a brown back and white breast and belly, and orange feathers on the rump which can typically only be seen when the bird is in flight. It has two black stripes across the chest. Its face contains brown, black, and white patches. Males and females are similar in appearance.
Killdeer are 8-11 inches (20-28 cm) long and weigh 2.6-4.5 ounces (75-128 g).
In the wild, killdeer eat small invertebrates such as worms, insects, and snails. At Cosley Zoo, the killdeer is fed a commercial insectivore (insect-eater) diet, crickets, mealworms, birdseed, fruits, and vegetables.
Killdeer nest in shallow depressions in the ground. The female lays 4-6 tan-colored eggs per clutch (group of eggs). The eggs have a speckled coloring which helps them blend in with dirt and pebbles on the ground and makes them difficult for a predator to find. The eggs hatch after 22-28 days of incubation.
As a ground-dwelling bird, the killdeer prefers open space with minimal vegetation, which may include lawns, driveways, parking lots, golf courses, and open fields. Killdeer can be found throughout Illinois. Killdeer which summer in northern Illinois typically migrate further south during the winter months.
The oldest known killdeer was over 10 years old.
Killdeer thrive in habitats which have been modified by humans. However, this also puts them in higher danger of being hit by cars or flying into buildings. Killdeer consume many pest species, which makes them especially useful to farmers.