They are often heard before seen. Ki-deah! Ki-deah! Alerts us to a nearby Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) so named for the sound of its call. They can be seen feeding on the shores of Gabriola Island year-round, often in monogamous pairs or small groups. In the early spring they nest on the shore or inland on open ground. Both parents take turns sitting on their 4 to 6 eggs for the 24 to 28-day incubation period.

Found across the Americas, Killdeer are the largest of the ring-necked plovers, with distinctive double black rings on their chest, brown backs, white bellies and an orange patch on their rumps. They are well known for their fake injured-wing technique to distract predators away from their nest. This brave strategy takes a lot of energy and if repeated too often may exhaust the bird or lead to a nest being abandoned. It is best to avoid nests by staying clear and keeping dogs on a leash a long way away.

Federal laws prohibit disturbing Killdeer while nesting – if you see a nest being disturbed, call the BC Wildlife Rescue Support Centre at 604-526-7275.

3 Killdeer Fun Facts

  1. No, they don’t kill deer, they just like saying it
  2. Killdeer didn’t get the memo on nest building – a slight depression in the sand, rock pile or even a construction site will do
  3. One year, the Ottawa Bluesfest organizers had to hire 24-hour security guards to protect a Killdeer nest found on site during the 10-day music festival

Article, images and video © Vicky Scott

Ever noticed a killdeer tapping its foot? It’s not because it’s a wanna-be drummer, it’s actually a hunting technique: the vibration stimulates its tiny prey into moving, making it easier to spot.

Meet the Neighbours

This article is the first in a series of occasional “Meet the Neighbours” articles written to tell you about some of the critters (and plants) that we share our island with. If you’d like to learn more about how to be a good neighbour by preserving habitat for native species on your own property, visit our Nature Stewards page.

Tags: , , , Categories: Conservation, WildlifePublished On: February 13, 2023

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