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A Killdeer’s Diet

8-4-17 killdeer2 049A1132Ninety-eight percent of  a Killdeer’s diet  consists of animal matter.  Beetles, insect larvae, earthworms, grasshoppers and crayfish make up the majority of what a Killdeer eats. In the summer, adult beetles (see photo) and beetle larvae make up almost half of what they consume.

Much of the time we observe Killdeer they are running, stopping, waiting and then running again. This is typical feeding behavior. Another method of obtaining food consists of patting the ground or the bottom of a pond in shallow water with one quivering foot. Killdeer also engage in probing into mud and chasing prey, and they have been known to follow tractors in search of earthworms.

Food normally passes through a Killdeer’s digestive tract in about two hours, but the spore-bearing structures of some ferns that it eats take five to sixty hours. All birds have gizzards, where food is ground up. Some birds swallow grit to aid in the grinding process, and the Killdeer is one of them. It has been proposed that the sporocarps take longer to pass through a Killdeer because they are retained in the gizzard where they function as grit.



4 responses

  1. Marilyn

    I haven’t seen, or heard, a killdeer in years. In my mind (and ear) they’re unique, like the bobolink.

    August 4, 2017 at 8:39 am

  2. Pat

    What an amazing photo!

    August 4, 2017 at 11:20 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    Crunch, crunch. i like my diet better, but, I’m not a bird.

    August 4, 2017 at 4:44 pm

  4. A couple weeks ago I saw a mixed flock of killdeers and city pigeons foraging on a lawn in front of a factory. What an odd combination of species.

    August 5, 2017 at 9:31 am

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