White-tailed lapwing

   ›      ›   White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus

The white-tailed lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) belongs to the family of plovers and lapwings, the Charadriidae.

The white-tailed lapwing species is distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Asia, northeast Africa and central Asia. These lapwing species are also known as white-tailed plovers. These lapwings are monotypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of White-tailed Lapwing Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The white-tailed lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) is a fairly large lapwing, measuring 25 to 30 cm in length and weighing 100 to 200 grams. Both the sexes look alike.

The white-tailed lapwing has grayish brown plumage without obvious patterning. The face and forehead are pale grayish brown. The supercilium is pale and indistinct. The tail is whitish. The breast region is dark grayish brown. The juveniles have conspicuously variegated upperparts.

The bill is black and is rather long for a lapwing. The irises are dark brown. The feet are very long and yellow. It has elegant gait. The feet project well beyond tail in flight. The white-tailed lapwing call is a squeaking "pet..ee..wit" or subdued, plaintive "pee-wick" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus
1.Birds of India - Image of White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus by Davidvraju


Birds of India - Photo of White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus
2.Indian birds - Picture of White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus by Kishore Bhargava

Indian birds - Image of White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus
3.Birds of India - Photo of White-tailed lapwing - Vanellus leucurus by Ron Knight

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The white-tailed lapwing species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Egypt, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Vagrant white-tailed lapwings have been observed in United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Nigeria, Tunisia, Niger, Morocco, Libya and Algeria.

In India, wintering populations of white-tailed lapwing occur in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these white-tailed lapwings in Iran are Horeh Bamdej, Shadegan marshes and tidal mudflats of Khor-al Amaya and Khor Musa. The IBA in Sudan is Lake Abiad.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these lapwings in Iraq are Baquba wetlands and Razzaza Lake (Bahr Al Milh). The IBA in South Sudan is Lake Abiad (South Sudan).

Ecosystem and habitat

These white-tailed lapwing species do not normally occur in forest. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1000 meters.

The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these lapwing species include water reservoirs, canals, drainage channels, aquaculture ponds and wastewater treatment areas.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these white-tailed lapwing species include, coastal freshwater lakes, lagoons, marine lakes, tide pools, mudflats, marshes, rivers, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these white-tailed lapwing consists mainly of insects. Caterpillars, insects, insect larvae, beetles, grasshoppers, locust, crickets, dragonflies, cicadas, spiders, maggots, worms, molluscs and crustaceans are their primary food.

These lapwings also feed on seeds, grains, leaves and flowers. These species forage on the ground, picking insects and other small prey. Ploughed fields and grasslands are their favorite feeding grounds.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these white-tailed lapwing species is during April to May in most of their breeding range. They breed in loose colonies. These birds are monogamous.

The nesting sites are usually located on damp, vegetated areas near water and dry ridges. The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground.

The lapwing clutch contains three to four eggs. The breeding pair take turns to incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch out after 25 days. The parents brood the chicks. The chicks are precocial and are able feed themselves.

Migration and movement patterns

These white-tailed lapwing species are partially migrant birds.

Migratory white-tailed lapwing populations occur in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, northwest Afghanistan, northwest Iran, parts of Turkey, Syria and Azerbaijan. These breeding populations migrate southwards for wintering.

Wintering lapwing populations occur in Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, west and northwest India. These populations arrive at their breeding grounds in early summer.

The white-tailed lapwing populations in parts of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are resident. Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

White-tailed lapwing - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Vanellus leucurus
  • Species author: (Lichtenstein, 1823)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Charadrius leucurus M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823
  • Family: Charadriidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: White-tailed lapwing, Chinese: 白尾麦鸡, French: Vanneau à queue blanche, German: Weißschwanzkiebitz, Spanish: Avefría coliblanca, Russian: Белохвостая пигалица , Japanese: オジロゲリ
  • Other names: white-tailed plover
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Asia, northeast Africa, central Asia
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, insects, insect larvae, beetles, locust, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, molluscs, crustaceans
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the white-tailed lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) is estimated to be around 20,000 to 130,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be fluctuating.

Throughout its range, this lapwing species is reported to be scarce to locally common. The generation length is 9 years. Its distribution size is about 6,840,000 sq.km.

Habitat alteration and destruction, the draining of wetlands for expansion of agriculture are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this lapwing species.

IUCN and CITES status

The white-tailed lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or 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 of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for white-tailed lapwing (Vanellus leucurus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Vanellus leucurus
Species:V. leucurus
Binomial name:Vanellus leucurus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The white-tailed lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) is closely related to sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius).
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1.Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Davidraju_IMG_3594_(cropped).jpg (cropped)
Photo author: Davidvraju | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kbhargava/8648375984/ (cropped)
Photo author: Kishore Bhargava | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 as on 11/4/17
3.Photo source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:White-tailed_Lapwing_(Vanellus_leucurus)_(8079438406).jpg (cropped)
Photo author: Ron Knight | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 11/4/17
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