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Spot-breasted Lapwing Vanellus melanocephalus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-6,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species.

Behaviour This species is not migratory, but it is likely to undertake limited local seasonal movements (large numbers appear north of Gondar, Ethiopia, during the rainy season [Urban et al. 1986]). It is usually found in solitary pairs or small flocks, and outside of the breeding season it often occurs in parties of 30-40 birds (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996), occasionally in larger flocks of more than 100 (Ficha Abbera, Bale Mountains, Ethiopia [Vivero Pol 2001]). This species breeds in April (Bale Mountains) and in August in the Shoa region (Johnsgard 1981), Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is diurnally active (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat This species inhabits highland grassland (Urban et al. 1986), moorland with giant lobelia, giant heath, Alchemilla and tussock grass (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), marshes, damp meadows, streams and particularly cattle pastures (often occurs around domestic stock [Urban et al. 1986]), generally between 1,800 m and 4,100 m above sea level (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet is undescribed (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site Only one nest of the species has been described: it was a shallow scrape in a patch of grass and moss, situated on a small rocky island in a shallow pool surrounding by giant lobelia moorland (Johnsgard 1981, Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Although it is regarded as locally common, its very restricted range makes this species somewhat vulnerable (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It has recently been reported to be unevenly distributed in areas where it was once common, probably due to climatological changes (Vivero Pol 2001). There are no other threats recorded for this species (Vivero Pol 2001).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Vivero Pol, J. L. 2001. A guide to endemic birds of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Shama Books, Addis Ababa.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Vanellus melanocephalus. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Charadriidae (Plovers)
Species name author (Rüppell, 1845)
Population size 670-6700 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 180,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change