Lapwing birds
Return to Index page


From the family of Charadriidae

The Lapwings, a name for birds who do not hear so often shares the same family with the more common Plovers, Charadriidae. In flight they show the same characteristic of slow and irregular wing beat then accompanied with shrill wailing calls. Lapwing are so-called as the the wings of the birds make that lapping sound in flight and enhanced by their irregular flight pattern. Perhaps a ploy top lure predator away from their nest on the ground acting as if the wings were broken.

So the Lapwing is actually a larger version of Plover which favor the open country that are wet and then choose to remain at places which are edges of wetlands. As some of my pictures shows, they are also adaptable and can also be seen in places which are arid. Other pictures shows that they are in barren land by the waterways.

The birds have a large repertoire of songs. Though all of them not pleasant to listen but these calls signify situations that ranges from warning, courting, signals to the young heard throughout the day. With that habit of feeding in moonlight nights, the calls could be heard non-stop which also pre-empted their presence.

The bird prefers cultivated or abandoned farm land with patches of short grasses where they could lay their eggs. Some species of Lapwings have the habits of gathering in flocks

The birds spend much of the time on the ground for its food, foraging for worms, insects and other small invertebrates often among a mixed flock of Golden Plovers.

Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus  
Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus  
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus

The Lapwing are grouped together with the Plovers in one family. The combined numbers for these birds world wide are 67 species. In South-East Asia there 15 species, while most of them Plovers, there are 4 Lapwings of which I have listed 3 species supposedly could be seen in Malaysia.


1. Grey-headed Lapwing  Vanellus cinereus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- The bird is 36 cm long as compared to the 26 cm long of the Pacific Golden Plover that bird mingle with. It has a plain colored grayish brown head and neck, long yellowish bill with black tip. Both legs and feet yellowish as well.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird of the area of North-eastern China and Japan.
 Habitats & preferences:- Large open ground with wet surfaces. Our used tin mines of flat ground with puddles of water and well tufted are their favorites.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Mostly in the belt of used tin mines between Ipoh and Slim Rivers, and up north in Penang.

Record of bird's common call :-   Video:-


Grey-headed Lapwing # 1

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 2

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 3

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 4

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 5

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 6

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 7

Grey-headed Lapwing # 8

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 9

Grey-headed Lapwing 10

Grey-headed Lapwing # 11

Grey-headed Lapwing  # 12


 My personal jottings on the Grey-head Lapwing:-

I find that their habitats fairly consistent though I have not seen them in padifields which is suppose to be one of the choices. Water is an important criteria but fields with tall padi stalks is not.


2. Red-wattled Lapwing  Vanellus indicus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- The Red-wattled Lapwing is also the same size as the Grey-headed but marginally smaller. The bird has a black hood and again black all the way down to the upper breast. Then a grayish-brown upper side and a white under part. There is also a broad white band across the upper mantle.

 Distribution :-  The area where the bird is found stretches from Southern Turkey, the Arabian peninsula to the Indian sub-continent.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland bird that prefers more the edges of waterways and lakes.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Found at the edges of mining ponds and some times in Padifields [not that often]

Record of bird's common call :-    and Video:-


Red-wattled Lapwing  # 1

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 2

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 3

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 4

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 5

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 6

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 7

Red-wattled Lapwing # 8

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 9

Red-wattled Lapwing  # 10

Red-wattled Lapwing # 11

Red-wattled Lapwing # 12

 My personal jottings on the Red-wattled Lapwing:-

The bird is not choosy about the size of ponds or lakes where it would hang around. As long as there are water nearby. The times when the bird were seen on arid ground, in fact there was a pool of water nearby concealed. from sight.


It is easier to catch sight of the Red-wattled Lapwing as they are in pair all by them selves more often than with a flock. They are available then in more places where as the Grey-headed Lapwing has greater tendency to keep themselves among a flock. It is  situation of not easy meeting up with birds and when you see one, there are plenty of them around.

I am not sure of the migration pattern but somehow Red-wattled Lapwing is seen throughout the year. Could also assume that this species is localized.

The two species shares the same habitats and could be seen in the same locality but never together in the same patch of ground. The Grey-headed maintained their tight-knitted community while the Red-wattled some distance away alone or in pair. Even the pair are hardly seen walking side by side.