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A photo of a Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus)
Crowned Lapwing

Crowned Lapwing

Vanellus coronatus

The Crowned Lapwing, known scientifically as Vanellus coronatus, presents a striking appearance with its distinctive brown and white plumage. Most notable is its black crown, which is encircled by a white halo, making it a conspicuous presence in its environment. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males being slightly larger than females by an average of 3%. Juveniles appear as muted versions of the adults, with less pronounced coloration and yellowish legs rather than the red seen in adults.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Crowned Lapwing, look for the characteristic black crown with a surrounding white halo. Adults are generally noisy and easily spotted. The legs of adults are red, while juveniles have yellowish legs and a less vibrant bill, lacking the red base seen in mature birds.


The Crowned Lapwing favors short, dry grasslands, often those that have been overgrazed or burnt, but it typically avoids mountainous regions. It is a versatile species, adapting to various environments, but shows a preference for drier areas.


This bird species is found contiguously from the Red Sea coast of Somalia to southern and southwestern Africa. It is a common sight in the central Kalahari region of southern Africa, where it reaches its highest concentrations.


Crowned Lapwings are known for their bold and noisy habits. They may associate with the more localized black-winged lapwings without showing mutual aggression, even within breeding territories. Males display aggressive posturing when establishing nesting territories, and the defeated male will adopt a specific posture to signal surrender. Mates are often retained for life, and breeding is timed to precede the rainy season.

Song & Calls

The Crowned Lapwing is a vocal species, known for its loud and distinctive calls, which contribute to its reputation as a noisy bird.


Breeding pairs may remain together for life. The male performs display flights to attract the female to his territory, and if she accepts, she will follow him during these flights. Egg-laying is synchronized with the approach of the rainy season, and the female primarily undertakes incubation duties.

Similar Species

The Crowned Lapwing can be confused with the black-winged and Senegal lapwings, with which it shares some plumage characteristics. However, the unique black crown with a white halo of the Crowned Lapwing is a distinguishing feature.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Crowned Lapwing primarily consists of insects, with termites and ants being significant components. These insects are often gleaned from the dung of large mammals. The birds feed mainly by pecking at the surface rather than digging.

Conservation status

The Crowned Lapwing is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that it is not currently at significant risk of extinction in the wild. Its numbers have increased in the latter part of the 20th century, benefiting from various human activities. The species is also protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Crowned Lapwing Sounds

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Crowned Lapwings on Birda


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