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Killdeer: Its Call Will Remind You Of Star Wars

Killdeer: Its Call Will Remind You Of Star Wars

Killdeer are common across Western North America. Also, once identified, they are hard to forget. They frequent shorelines, ponds, lakes, and even grassland.

AND, the Killdeer call is a “pew pew pew.” You can hear it here if you’ve never heard it.

Let me preface this with: I am not a Star Wars fan. However, I have a general understanding of it because of its ubiquity in popular culture. No, I cannot tell you the plot move by move. But, I can generally understand the main characters and identifying things.

One of those things is the sound the ships make as they’re shooting. That sound will forever sound like a Killdeer call to me.

When out walking, I almost always hear them before I see them. Between its high pitch and frequent occurrence, I can usually visually locate them afterward. Their scientific name reflects that: Charadrius vociferus. “Vociferus” is latin for vociferous, or having a loud shouting tendency.

Most often, I see them in the Pacific Northwest near Puget sound. They feed frequently at the shorelines. Sometimes, the Black Bellied Plovers join them. Other times, the Killdeer are running the dune grass area near the Great Blue Herons.

However, I have now begun to see them more in Northern California.

Here are two photos from Killdeer in California:

Killdeer & the Traveling Nature Journal

This is a two page journal spread on the Killdeer Species featuring text, a photo, and a sketch.
Nature Journal Spread for the Killdeer

For this spread in my nature journal, I started with a sketch. I wanted to attempt to draw a Killdeer flying. They fly fast and have rather pointy wings. Since they fly so fast, I drew from a photo that I took.

Next, I printed out a polaroid of how I usually see the Killdeer. This particular one stands at the edge of Puget Sound a few months ago. It walked through the seaweed finding little bits to eat here and there. Quite loudly, I’d mention.

Then, I did a little research. I like to find out in which family birds belong. That way, I can see who is related to who. Why? It helps me make connections between species. Furthermore, it helps me understand a new species better when I can relate it to one I already know.

I’ve really been enjoying this two page spread method for more in depth learning. It has helped me dig into the basic facts and record my observations.

If you can’t read the photo, here is a great place to start:


Killdeer reside in the Charadriidae Family. We learned a little about them with the Black Bellied Plover, in the same family.

Killdeer General Characteristics

  • About the same size as the American Robin
  • Two black bands around upper breast/neck area
  • White band around neck and white belly
  • White and black head with brown on the very top
  • Red outline around eyes
  • Long tail that is mostly brownish/tan
  • If approached near nest, will distract predator by limping away pretending a wing is broken
  • 4 spotted eggs and both male and female incubate


  • Fields and farmland
  • Likes coastal fields and beaches, especially inland


  • Throughout most of North America
  • Migratory, however, will move to milder winter climates depending on location