Kildeer, an American plover, so called from its notes, which resemble the sounds "kildee, kildee, dee, dee, dee;" it is the charadrius vociferus (Linn.) or the genus aegialitis (Boie). The kildeer is about 10 in. long, with an extent of wings of 20, the bill 1 in., and the weight 6 oz. The head is small, the neck short, body rather slender, wings reaching to the end of the long tail, feet long and slender, hind tibia bare considerably above the joint, and toe wanting. The bill is black, the edges of the lids bright red, the iris dark brown, and the feet grayish blue; the head above and upper parts of the body light brown with a greenish tinge; rump and upper tail coverts rufous; lower parts white; ring on neck and wide band on breast black; quills brownish black, with about half their inner webs white; white spots on the shorter primaries, and the secondaries edged with the same; the four middle tail feathers white tipped, with a wide subterminal black band, and the lateral ones widely tipped with white; the whole upper plumage is sometimes edged with rufous.
The bird is common throughout North America, most abundant inland, going to the south in winter, and to the islands of the Atlantic and Pacific. It is very wary, the small flocks when feeding posting a sentinel to warn them of danger; when alarmed it is very noisy, uttering rapidly the notes which have given it its name. Its chief resorts are newly ploughed fields, the banks of clear rivers, and elevated worn-out grounds, where it feeds on worms, grasshoppers, beetles, small crustaceans, and snails; toward winter it approaches the seashore, and at the south is fond of the sugar, cotton, and rice fields, and of marshes, mud flats, and oyster beds. The flight is strong and rapid, whether at high or low elevations, and the speed in running is such as to have become proverbial; the large eyes indicate its habit of feeding by night as well as by day. It breeds in the southern states about the beginning of April, and a month later in the middle states; the nest is either a hollow in the earth or is made of grass on the ground; the eggs, usually four, are 1 5/8 by 1 1/8 in., cream-colored with irregular purplish brown and black blotches; the parents adopt various devices to divert attention from their nest.
The flesh, unless of the young in early autumn, is indifferent, though it is eaten at all seasons of the year.
Kildeer (Charadrius vociferus).