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Species Guide
A photo of a River Lapwing (Vanellus duvaucelii)
River Lapwing

River Lapwing

Vanellus duvaucelii

The River Lapwing, known scientifically as Vanellus duvaucelii, is a medium-sized bird, measuring 29–32 cm in length. It boasts a distinctive black crest, crown, face, and central throat, contrasted by grey-white on the neck sides and nape. A grey-brown breast band adorns its front, leading to white underparts interrupted by a stark black belly patch. The back is cloaked in brown, while the rump flashes white, and the tail is a deep black. In flight, this bird reveals a striking pattern: black primaries, white under wings and upper wing secondaries, and brown upper wing coverts.

Identification Tips

Adult River Lapwings of both sexes share similar plumage, though males are marginally larger. Juveniles can be identified by the brown tips on their black head feathers, a sandier brown back, and pale fringes on the upperpart and wing covert feathers.


This species is found along riverbanks, preferring shingle and sand banks for nesting.


The River Lapwing's range spans from the Indian Subcontinent, covering much of northern and northeastern India, and stretches eastwards to Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. It is a sedentary bird, not known for migration.


The River Lapwing is known for its elaborate breeding display performed on the ground, which includes a series of movements such as stooping, spinning, stretching, and crest-raising. It is not a gregarious species, tending to keep to itself rather than forming large flocks.

Song & Calls

The call of the River Lapwing is a sharp "tip-tip" or "did-did-did," which can be heard along the riverbanks it inhabits.


Breeding season for the River Lapwing occurs from March to June. The bird lays two eggs in a simple ground scrape on its favored shingle or sand banks.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the River Lapwing includes insects, worms, crustaceans, and molluscs, which it forages for in nearby wet grasslands and farmlands.

Conservation status

The River Lapwing is currently classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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River Lapwings on Birda


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