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White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps
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This species has an extremely 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 appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not 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.

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is essentially sedentary but during periods of flooding it leaves rivers and moves to drier ground or temporary lagoons (Johnsgard 1981). Outside of the breeding season the species is gregarious and can generally be found in groups of 6-12 birds, occasionally in flocks of up to 30 (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996) or more on migration to less flooded areas (Johnsgard 1981). Breeding occurs mainly during the dry season (del Hoyo, et al. 1996), and at this time the species is highly territorial and is found in isolated pairs (Johnsgard 1981). In western and equatorial Africa breeding usually begins near the end of April, with exact dates varying with locallity (Johnsgard 1981). Habitat This species inhabits large rivers with sandy riverbanks and islands or sandbanks mid-stream, both in open country and forest (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996, Hockey, et al. 2005). During floods it is also found on small streams, pans and lagoons (del Hoyo, et al. 1996, Hockey, et al. 2005), and sometimes occurs on lake shores (e.g. Lake Kariba) (Urban, et al. 1986, Hockey, et al. 2005) foraging for worms in damp grassy places (Urban, et al. 1986). Diet The species is mainly omnivorous, taking insects (including beetles, weevils, ants, mantids and mutillid wasps), worms, molluscs, crabs, other small crustaceans and small fish (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996, Hockey, et al. 2005) or frogs (Johnsgard 1981, Hockey, et al. 2005); very rarely taking vegetable matter (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest of this species is a lined shallow scrape on sand or shingle in riverbeds at times of low water (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996).

The species is threatened in South Africa by habitat degradation owing to decreasing river flows (resulting from afforestation, invasive plant species and increasing water abstraction) (Hockey, et al. 2005).

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.

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

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.

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 albiceps. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 Gould, 1834
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,540,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change