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Definition.A small aquatic bird allied to the plover, Ægialites (Oxyechus) vociferous, which takes the name from its cry. It is of a light-brown color above, the feathers being tipped with a brownish red, and has a black ring round the neck. It is found both in North and South America. — Webster, 1882

All day the curlews and killdeers and sandpipers chirped and sang in the creek bottoms. – Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 25, “Soldiers”

The killdeer or kill-deer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium sized plover, one of the most widely seen shorebirds in North America, although they are also found far from the shore – even on the Kansas prairie. The bird has a brown back and black bands across its white breast. These birds often nest close to where there are people, so they have developed what is called a “distraction display” to lure predators away from the nest. They chatter loudly and hop about as if they have a broken wing, but they take off if the predator gets too close. The name “killdeer” comes from the sound the bird makes.

The killdeer was one of the birds the Ingallses heard chirping and singing in the creek bottoms in Indian Territory (see Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 25, “Soldiers”), along with meadow larks, curlews, sandpipers, and mockingbirds.


killdeer (LHP 25)