Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Killdeer Nests Popping Up Around Sanibel

March 20, 2023

You might be familiar with Sanibel’s beach nesting plover species, the snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) and Wilson’s plover (Charadrius wilsonia), but there’s another nesting plover species that you may find right outside your front door — the killdeer (Charadrius vociferus).

Killdeer get their name from their distinct call that sounds like their name — a shrill, high-pitched “kill-deer.” They are visually striking, with tan-brown and white plumage, two black bands across their chests, and bright orange eye rings. This plover species can be found year-round in Florida and across most of the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. Killdeer can be found near water along with other shorebirds, as well as in dry areas.

“Due to Hurricane Ian, some killdeer may have been displaced from their original nesting areas on the island, and we’ve seen nesting pairs popping up in new places,” said SCCF Shorebird Technician Aaron White. “Interestingly, these birds have no problem nesting in close proximity to humans — they prefer open fields including but not limited to athletic fields, lawns, driveways, airports, and golf courses.”

Killdeer, like other plovers, dig shallow depressions called scrapes, in which they lay four to six light brown and black speckled eggs. When they sense a threat to their eggs, they may begin loudly calling and bobbing up and down or pretend to be injured in attempt to lure predators away from the nest (called a “broken wing display”). If you witness either of these behaviors, there may be a killdeer nest near you, so watch your step.

Killdeer sprawl out their wings and tail to appear injured so potential predators will pursue them instead of their eggs.

If you suspect Killdeer are nesting in your area, please keep your distance and contact


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