River lapwing

   ›      ›   River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii

The river lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii) belongs to the family of plovers, dotterels and lapwings, Charadriidae.

The river lapwing species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Southern China. These lapwing species are undergoing decline in population and are listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN. These lapwings are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of River Lapwing Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

River lapwing - Overview

  • Scientific name: Vanellus duvaucelii
  • Species author: (Lesson, 1826)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Charadrius Duvaucelii Lesson, 1826, Hoplopterus duvaucelii (Lesson, 1826)
  • Family: Charadriidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: River lapwing, Chinese: 距翅麦鸡, French: Vanneau pie German: Flusskiebitz Spanish: Avefría fluvial, Russian: Индийский чибис, Japanese: カタグロツバメゲリ, Thai: nók krà-taee hàat
  • Other names: Indian Spur-winged Lapwing, Pied Lapwing
  • Distribution: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Southern China
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, worms, molluscs, crustaceans
  • IUCN status listing: Near Threatened (NT)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The river lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii) is a medium-sized lapwing, measuring 29 to 32 cm in length and weighing 140 to 185 grams.

The river lapwing has blackish crown, face, chin, throat and the upper breast. It has a extensive black crest. The crest is held folded down the nape giving a long headed appearance. The crest is raised very rarely.

The sides of the neck and nape are pale gray, separated from the black plumage by a thin white line. The mantle and the back are pale buff-brown. The rump is whitish and the tail is black.

There is a broad buff breast-band which is darker at the lower edge. There is small black patch between the legs. The rest of the underparts are white. The carpal spurs are black.

In flight the broad white wing-bar and black stripe on the outer coverts can be seen. The feet extend beyond tail. While standing these lapwings give a hunched, horizontal stance.

The bill is black. The legs are long and black. These lapwing species lack hind-toe. The irises are dark red. Both the sexes look alike. Juveniles are duller version of adults. Their call is a sharp high pitched "kek..kek..kek" and "did..did..did" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii
1.Birds of India - Image of River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii by Francesco Veronesi

Birds of India - Photo of River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii
2.Indian birds - Picture of River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii by Davidvraju

Indian birds - Image of River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii
Birds of India - Photo of River lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelii by Patty McGann

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The river lapwing species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Southern China (Yunnan).

In India, these lapwing species are distributed in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these lapwing species in Laos are Upper Lao Mekong, Nakai Plateau and Mekong River from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. The IBA in Cambodia is Sesan River.

Ecosystem and habitat

These river lapwing species do not normally occur in forest. These species normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters. The artificial ecosystems of these lapwing species include agricultural fields and water storage reservoirs.

The natural ecosystems of these river lapwing species include wetlands, slow-moving rivers with sand or gravel bars, permanent freshwater lakes, river islands, streams, creeks, sandbanks and shingle banks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the river lapwing consists mainly of insects. Worms, insects, insect larvae, tadpoles, crustaceans, molluscs and small fish are their primary food. They feed singly or in pairs.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these lapwing species in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh is from March to June. The males make elaborate breeding display in groups by stooping, spinning, stretching and crest-raising. The nesting sites include shingle and sand banks and river beds.

Migration and movement patterns

The river lapwing species are non-migrant resident birds. Some seasonal nomadic movements have been observed.

Post breeding, the juvenile lapwings may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the river lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii) is estimated to number 15,000 to 30,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be decreasing.

Throughout its range this lapwing species is reported to be scarce and rare. The generation length is 8.9 years. Its distribution size is about 5,770,000 sq.km.

Habitat degradation, habitat loss, hunting pressure, draining of wetlands, collection of eggs, flooding of nest sites and altering the river flow by building barriers are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these lapwing species.

IUCN and CITES status

The river lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii) is approaching the thresholds for being Vulnerable, under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion and also under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the lapwing species and has listed it as "Near Threatened". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for river lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Vanellus duvaucelii
Species:V. duvaucelii
Binomial name:Vanellus duvaucelii
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened
The river lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii) is closely related to spur-winged lapwing (Vanellus spinosus).
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1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/francesco_veronesi/15639787191/ (cropped)
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 7/12/17
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:River_Lapwing_David_Raju.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Davidvraju | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pattymc/6913243492/ (cropped)
Image author: Patty McGann | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 as on 7/12/17
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