Wild Birds

River Lapwings

River Lapwings (Vanellus duvaucelii)

The River Lapwings, Vanellus duvaucelii, is a lapwing species that breeds in Southeast Asia from northeastern India to Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. It appears to be entirely sedentary.

This species resembles the closely related Spur-winged Lapwing of Africa and has sometimes been considered conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species). The species’ name commemorates Alfred Duvaucel.

River Lapwings Searching For Food
River Lapwings Searching For Food


The River Lapwings is 29-32 cm long. It has a black crest, crown, face, and central throat, and grey-white neck sides and nape. It has a grey-brown breast band and white underparts with a black belly patch. The back is brown, the rump is white and the tail is black. This is a striking species in flight, with black primaries (= longest wing feathers), white under wings and upper wing secondaries (shorter, upper “arm” feathers), and brown upper wing coverts.


Adults of both sexes are similarly plumaged, but males are slightly larger than females. Young birds have the brown tips to the black head feathers, a sandier brown back, and pale fringes to the upper part, and wing covert feathers.

Call / Vocalization

The call of the River Lapwing is a sharp tip-tip or did-did-did.


The breeding display, given on the ground, includes stooping, spinning, stretching and crest-raising.

The River Lapwing nests on shingle and sand banks from March to June. It lays two eggs on a ground scrape. It feeds on insects, worms crustaceans and mollusks in nearby wet grassland and farmland. It is not gregarious.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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