River Lapwing: The Striking Bird of the River Banks

The world of avian species is diverse and fascinating, with a plethora of unique bird species calling different parts of the globe their home. India, in particular, is blessed with a rich birdlife, making it a paradise for every bird lover. For those who have a penchant for exploring avian diversity, visiting a bird sanctuary or a birdlife sanctuary can be an exhilarating experience. One bird that stands out in the crowd for its distinctive features and habits is the River Lapwing. Known scientifically as Vanellus duvaucelii, this bird is not only interesting for its physical attributes but also for its unique behaviours. Let’s delve into the life of this extraordinary bird species.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameRiver Lapwing
2Scientific nameVanellus duvaucelii
3ColourBlack crest, crown, face, and central throat; grey-white neck sides and nape; grey-brown breast band; white underparts with a black belly patch; brown back.
4Average length29-32 cm
5Average height30 cm
6Type of birdRiverine bird
7Found in India in statesNorthern and northeastern states
8HabitatShingle and sand banks of rivers
9IUCN StatusData deficient

Features of the River Lapwing


The River Lapwing, owing to its size and striking appearance, easily grabs the attention of any bird lover who has the chance to spot it at a bird sanctuary or in the wild. With an average length of around 29-32 cm, this bird boasts a certain stature that sets it apart. The length of the River Lapwing also contributes to its distinctive flying silhouette, particularly noticeable when the bird takes off abruptly, its wings flapping rapidly. Whether perched on a river bank or seen in a bird image, this bird is sure to leave an impression with its size and demeanor.


Observing the height of a bird is fascinating for a bird lover, especially when at a bird sanctuary or a birdlife sanctuary. The River Lapwing, when seen in a vertical upside-down position, measures around 30 cm in height. This is indeed a considerable height for a bird of this type, adding to its distinctiveness among other riverine birds. It’s hard to miss such an intriguing bird when you’re scanning the landscape with your binoculars or flipping through a bird picture book.

Running Speed

For those visiting a bird shop near me or a bird sanctuary, one of the fascinating aspects of bird watching is observing the different ways in which birds move. Some waddle, some hop, while others run. The River Lapwing belongs to the category of birds that are agile runners. It moves rapidly on the ground, a movement style that’s critical for its survival in its riverine habitat. The running speed of the River Lapwing not only helps it escape predators but also enables it to chase after potential food sources.


The colour of the River Lapwing is indeed a spectacle to behold. Its upper body is adorned with a black crest, crown, face, and central throat, making it a standout species in a bird sanctuary or in a bird picture. The sides of its neck and nape showcase a grey-white colour, while its breast band is grey-brown. Adding to its striking looks is the white underparts contrasted with a black belly patch, a combination you wouldn’t forget once you’ve seen it. The back of this bird is brown, making it blend seamlessly with its environment when seen from afar.

Habitat and Food of the River Lapwing

  1. The River Lapwing predominantly resides in the shingle and sand banks of rivers across northern and northeastern India and parts of Southeast Asia. It’s a sight to behold for any bird lover visiting a bird sanctuary or watching a bird flying over a river.
  1. It’s not a migratory bird, making the rivers its permanent home. Therefore, their sightings are consistent throughout the year for those who are into birdlife and bird photos.
  1. The River Lapwing feeds on insects, worms, crustaceans, and molluscs. Its diet is primarily carnivorous, and it relies heavily on the riverine ecosystem for sustenance. A visit to a bird shop might not provide you an opportunity to spot this bird, but a bird sanctuary certainly will.
  1. This bird uses its sharp beak to pick small invertebrates from the ground. It’s a sight that captivates every bird lover and a moment that deserves to be captured in a bird picture.
  1. It prefers open, flat areas near water where it can easily locate both food and nesting sites. While bird migration is not a trait of this species, local movements are observed based on the availability of food.

Nesting and Nurturing of the River Lapwing

  1. From March to June, the River Lapwing builds its nests on shingle and sand banks, where it lays two eggs on a ground scrape. The sight of a River Lapwing bird nest is quite a treat for any bird lover visiting a bird sanctuary or a birdlife sanctuary.
  1. It exhibits interesting breeding behavior. During the breeding display, the birds perform various actions on the ground such as stooping, spinning, stretching, and raising their crests. Observing this unique ritual is indeed a rewarding experience for every bird lover.
  1. The River Lapwing’s nurturing habits reflect the species’ dedication towards their offspring. While nurturing their young, these birds demonstrate an impressive level of care and protection, which is a testament to their strong parental instincts.
  1. Young River Lapwings can be identified by their brown-tipped black head feathers, sandy brown back, and light fringes on their upper and wing covert feathers. They can be seen in bird photos showcasing their different stages of development.
  1. Their call is a sharp tip-tip or did-did-did, an audio signature that can be recognized by any experienced bird lover.

Threats to the River Lapwing

Like many bird species around the world, the River Lapwing faces a number of threats. Habitat loss due to the degradation of rivers and wetlands is one of the primary challenges. Moreover, human disturbances, especially during the breeding season, are a concern for this bird species. Protecting these birds’ habitats is crucial for their survival.

IUCN Status and Conservation of the River Lapwing

As of now, the IUCN status of the River Lapwing is classified as Data Deficient, meaning there’s inadequate information to make a direct or indirect assessment of its risk of extinction. More research needs to be done on its population size, distribution, and trends. Meanwhile, conservation efforts are crucial to protect this bird species and its habitat.


The River Lapwing, with its unique features and behavior, captivates every bird lover. From its striking appearance to its distinctive call, everything about this bird is fascinating. While you may not find it in a bird shop near me, a visit to a bird sanctuary or a birdlife sanctuary might give you a chance to observe this bird in its natural habitat. Remember, every bird picture you click or every bird image name you learn contributes to your journey as a bird lover. The world of birdlife is vast and captivating, and species like the River Lapwing remind us of the diversity and beauty that nature has to offer. So, let’s admire, learn, and strive to conserve these winged wonders.

More info about River Lapwing: Link

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