Spur-winged Plovers (Vanellus spinosus)

The Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus) is a lapwing, a group of largish waders in the family Charadriidae.

It breeds around the eastern Mediterranean, and in a wide band from sub-Saharan west Africa to Arabia. The Greek and Turkish breeders are migratory, but other populations are resident.

These are conspicuous and unmistakable birds. They are medium-large waders with black crowns, chest, foreneck stripe and tail. The face, the rest of the neck, and belly are white and the wings and back are light brown. The bill and legs are black.

The bird got its name because of a spur (a small claw) hidden in each of its wings. The Spur-winged Plover is known to sometimes use the wing-claws in an attack on animals and, rarely, people, who get too close to the birds’ exposed offspring.

This species is declining in its northern range, but is abundant in much of tropical Africa, being seen in almost any wetland habitat in its range. Its striking appearance is supplemented by its noisy nature, with a loud did-he-do-it call.

This species has a preference for marshes and similar freshwater wetland habitats. It lays two blotchy yellowish eggs on a ground scrape.

The food of the Spur-winged Plover is insects and other invertebrates, which are picked from the ground.

The Spur-winged Plover is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

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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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