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A photo of a White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing

Vanellus leucurus

The White-tailed Lapwing, known scientifically as Vanellus leucurus, is a medium-sized wader with a distinctive appearance. It is characterized by its long legs and fairly long bill, which it uses adeptly to forage. The bird's plumage is a combination of brown on the back and foreneck, with a paler face and grey breast. Its pure white tail and a striking pattern of brown, white, and black across its wings render it unmistakable among its kind.

Identification Tips

Adult White-tailed Lapwings are slim, erect birds, notable for their long yellow legs which contrast with their white tails. The wings exhibit a unique pattern that is easily identifiable in flight. Juveniles may have a scaly appearance on their backs and can sometimes show hints of brown in their tails.


This species is adapted to wetland habitats and is the only lapwing typically found in deeper waters, where it actively forages for food.


The White-tailed Lapwing breeds semi-colonially in inland marshes across Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, and southern Russia. During the winter months, Russian populations migrate southward to the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, and northeast Africa. It is a rare vagrant in western Europe.


The White-tailed Lapwing is known to pick insects and other small prey mainly from the surface of the water. It exhibits semi-colonial breeding behavior and is known to be mainly resident in Iraq and Iran, while Russian populations are migratory.

Song & Calls

During the breeding season, the White-tailed Lapwing emits a "peewit" call, reminiscent of the Northern Lapwing's vocalization.


The breeding grounds for this species are inland marshes where they lay four eggs in a ground nest. The breeding season is marked by their distinctive calls and semi-colonial nesting habits.

Similar Species

While the White-tailed Lapwing is unique in its appearance, young birds may be confused with other lapwing species. However, the adult's distinctive coloration and habitat preferences aid in its identification.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the White-tailed Lapwing consists mainly of insects and other small prey, which it skillfully picks from the water's surface.

Conservation status

The White-tailed Lapwing is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, it faces threats in parts of its range due to habitat destruction and unintentional poaching. It is also one of the species protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

White-tailed Lapwing Sounds

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White-tailed Lapwings on Birda


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