Red-Wattled Lapwing

In the sprawling plains of South Asia, a curious and charismatic creature roams the grassy expanse with a strut that exudes confidence and grace. This is the Red-wattled lapwing, a bird of striking beauty and captivating presence.

Its plumage is a marvel to behold, with shades of brown and white blending seamlessly into a tapestry of feathered perfection. But what truly sets this bird apart are the bright red warts that adorn its head, a bold display of color that serves as a beacon of individuality in the vast expanse of the wild.

Serial NumberCharacteristicDescription
1Common nameRed-wattled lapwing
2Scientific NameVanellus indicus
3ColourBrownish-grey with black and white markings, and a distinctive red wattle on the face
4Average length in cms35-37 cm
5Average Height in cms15-17 cm
6Type of birdGrassland / Waterbird
7Found in India in statesFound throughout India, except in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas
8HabitatGrasslands, wetlands, and agricultural fields
9StatusLeast Concern


The Red-wattled lapwing is a medium-sized bird with a striking appearance. It measures about 35-40 cm in length and has a wingspan of approximately 75-85 cm. Its body is compact and well-proportioned, with a short tail and long, sturdy legs that enable it to run swiftly across the ground.

The plumage of the Red-wattled lapwing is predominantly brown and white, with distinct patterns on its wings and back. The upperparts of its body are brownish-grey, while its underparts are white. It also has a distinctive black breastband that runs across its chest, setting it apart from other lapwing species.

One of the most notable features of the Red-wattled lapwing is its bright red wattle or fleshy protuberance that hangs from the base of its beak on each side. These wattles are highly conspicuous and serve as a visual cue to other birds of its species during courtship and territorial displays.

In addition to its red wattles, the Red-wattled lapwing has a black crown and a white forehead, with a distinctive black and white stripe running from its eyes to the back of its head. Its beak is black and relatively long, measuring up to 4-5 cm in length.

Habitat and Food

The Red-wattled lapwing is a highly adaptable bird that is found in a variety of habitats across South Asia, including grasslands, scrublands, wetlands, agricultural fields, and urban areas. It is a resident bird and does not migrate, preferring to remain in its preferred habitat throughout the year.

When it comes to eating habits, the Red-wattled lapwing is primarily carnivorous, feeding on a range of small insects and invertebrates such as beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and spiders. It also feeds on small crustaceans, mollusks, and occasionally, small fish and amphibians.

The Red-wattled lapwing is a skilled hunter, using its sharp eyesight to locate prey and its long, pointed beak to capture and kill it. It forages on the ground, probing the soil with its beak and using its legs to stir up insects and other prey hidden in the grass.

In addition to its carnivorous diet, the Red-wattled lapwing also consumes plant matter, particularly seeds, and grains. It has been observed feeding on crops such as rice, maize, and sorghum, making it a potential pest for farmers.

Due to its carnivorous tendencies, the Red-wattled lapwing is an important part of the ecosystem, helping to control insect populations and contributing to the health of the ecosystem through its role as a predator. Its ability to adapt to a range of habitats and food sources has enabled it to thrive in South Asia, making it a beloved and respected bird in the region.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Red-wattled lapwing is a ground-nesting bird that creates a shallow scrape in the soil for its nest. It is a solitary nester, with pairs of birds building individual nests in close proximity to one another.

The female Red-wattled lapwing lays a clutch of 2-3 eggs, which are usually laid in a depression in the soil lined with grass and other plant material. The eggs are oval-shaped and have a light brown color with dark brown blotches and speckles.

The eggs of the Red-wattled lapwing are incubated by both parents, with the male and female taking turns to sit on the eggs for about 26-27 days. During this period, the parents are highly protective of their nest and will aggressively defend it against any potential threats.

Once the eggs hatch, the chicks are covered in soft, downy feathers and are able to walk and feed shortly after hatching. The parents take turns to care for the chicks, keeping them warm and protecting them from predators. They also teach the chicks how to forage for food, gradually weaning them off the parent’s care.

The Red-wattled lapwing parents are highly vigilant and will use a range of vocalizations and displays to warn their chicks of potential threats. They will also feign injury to distract predators and draw them away from their young.

The chicks of the Red-wattled lapwing are able to fly after about 30-35 days and will leave the nest shortly after this period. However, they will continue to receive care and protection from their parents for a further period of time until they are able to fend for themselves.

IUCN Status

The Red-wattled lapwing is classified as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that the species is considered to be widespread and abundant, with stable populations and no major threats to its survival.

The Red-wattled lapwing has a large range that extends across South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. It is a common and adaptable bird that is able to thrive in a range of habitats, from grasslands and wetlands to agricultural fields and urban areas.

While there are no major threats to the Red-wattled lapwing at present, the species could face potential threats in the future from habitat loss and degradation due to urbanization, agriculture, and development. Climate change could also impact the species by altering its habitat and affecting its food sources.

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