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Sandpiper vs. Killdeer: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Sandpipers are a large family of shorebirds known for their long bills and legs, while Killdeers are a specific type of plover with distinct ringing calls and bold patterns.
Sandpiper vs. Killdeer

Key Differences

Sandpipers belong to a large family of shorebirds, characterized by their slender bodies, long legs, and bills. Killdeers, a member of the plover family, are recognizable by their loud, piercing "kill-deer" calls and distinctive black-and-white banding on their necks.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 07, 2023
Most sandpipers are migratory, traveling long distances between breeding and wintering grounds. Killdeers, although also migratory, are often found year-round in parts of their range, especially in temperate regions.
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Dec 07, 2023
Sandpipers exhibit varied foraging behaviors, often probing mud or sand with their long bills. In contrast, Killdeers are known for their "broken-wing" act to distract predators from their nests.
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Dec 07, 2023
The habitats of sandpipers can range from coastal beaches to inland wetlands. Killdeers, however, are more versatile, often found in fields, parking lots, and even urban areas, in addition to wetlands.
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Dec 07, 2023
Sandpipers are diverse in species, each with distinct behaviors and appearances. Killdeers, as a specific species, have a more uniform appearance with their two black neck bands and brownish-tan plumage.
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Dec 07, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Family

Large family of shorebirds
Specific type of plover
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Physical Characteristics

Slender bodies, long legs and bills
Distinct black-and-white banding, shorter bills
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Migratory Patterns

Generally migratory
Migratory but often found year-round in places
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Habitat

Coastal beaches, inland wetlands
Wetlands, fields, urban areas
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Behavior and Appearance

Varied species, behaviors, appearances
Uniform appearance, "broken-wing" act
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Sandpiper and Killdeer Definitions

Sandpiper

A family of slender, long-legged shorebirds.
The sandpipers scurried along the beach, probing the sand.
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Nov 27, 2023

Killdeer

A type of plover known for its loud calls.
The distinctive kill-deer call announced the bird's presence.
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Nov 27, 2023

Sandpiper

Diverse in species with various foraging behaviors.
Each sandpiper species has a unique way of finding food.
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Killdeer

Exhibits a unique "broken-wing" act.
To protect its nest, the killdeer pretended to have a broken wing.
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Sandpiper

Known for their migratory habits.
In autumn, the sandpipers migrate to warmer climates.
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Killdeer

Adaptable to various environments, including urban areas.
Killdeers are often seen in open fields and parking lots.
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Nov 27, 2023

Sandpiper

Often found in coastal and wetland habitats.
The wetlands are a perfect habitat for sandpipers.
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Nov 27, 2023

Killdeer

Less migratory compared to some other shorebirds.
Many killdeers remain in the same area year-round.
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Nov 27, 2023

Sandpiper

Characterized by long bills used for probing food.
The sandpiper used its long bill to dig for insects.
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Nov 27, 2023

Killdeer

Recognizable by black-and-white neck banding.
The killdeer's two black neck bands make it easy to identify.
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Nov 27, 2023

Sandpiper

Any of various small shorebirds of the family Scolopacidae, usually having a long straight sensitive bill used to pick up insects, worms, and soft mollusks in mud and sand.
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Oct 19, 2023

Killdeer

A New World plover (Charadrius vociferus) that has a distinctive noisy cry and two black bands across its breast.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sandpiper

Any of various small wading birds of the family Scolopacidae.
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Oct 19, 2023

Killdeer

A North American plover (Charadrius vociferus) with a distinctive cry and territorial behavior that includes feigning injury to distract interlopers from the nest.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sandpiper

Any one of numerous species of small limicoline game birds belonging to Tringa, Actodromas, Ereunetes, and various allied genera of the family Tringidæ.
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Oct 19, 2023

Killdeer

American plover of inland waters and fields having a distinctive cry
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Oct 19, 2023

Sandpiper

A small lamprey eel; the pride.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sandpiper

Any of numerous usually small wading birds having a slender bill and piping call; closely related to the plovers
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Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are killdeers migratory?

They can be, but often stay in one area year-round.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 07, 2023

What is a killdeer?

A type of plover with distinct calls and neck banding.
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What is a sandpiper?

A shorebird known for its long legs and bill.
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What is unique about killdeer behavior?

Their "broken-wing" act to distract predators.
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Where do sandpipers live?

In coastal and wetland habitats.
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Dec 07, 2023

Where can you find killdeers?

In fields, urban areas, and wetlands.
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What colors are killdeers?

They have brownish-tan plumage with black and white bands.
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Dec 07, 2023

Can killdeers be found near water?

Yes, though they're also common in dry areas.
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Do sandpipers migrate?

Yes, most are migratory.
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Dec 07, 2023

How many species of sandpipers are there?

There are many diverse species.
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Are sandpipers social birds?

They can be, especially in groups during migration.
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What do sandpipers eat?

They forage for insects, worms, and crustaceans.
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Dec 07, 2023

Do sandpipers have a specific call?

Their calls vary by species.
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Can sandpipers be seen year-round?

In some regions, depending on the species.
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Do killdeers nest in trees?

No, they nest on the ground.
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How do killdeers protect their nests?

With their "broken-wing" act.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Do killdeers migrate south for winter?

Some do, but many stay in temperate regions.
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What is the sandpiper's habitat like?

Generally near water, like beaches and marshes.
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Dec 07, 2023

Are sandpipers endangered?

Some species are, due to habitat loss.
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How do killdeers communicate?

With a loud "kill-deer" call.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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