Sociable Lapwing breeds in northern and central Kazakhstan and south-central Russia, dispersing through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Egypt, to key wintering sites in Israel, Eritrea, Sudan (see below) and north-west India (e.g. 45 birds in the Little Rann of Kutch in November 2007 and 30 at Great Rann of Kutch in November 2008). Birds winter occasionally in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Oman and UAE.
The species has suffered a very rapid decline and range contraction. In northern Kazakhstan, a decline of 40% during 1930-1960, was followed by a further halving of numbers during 1960-1987. Recent fieldwork has shown the population to be larger than once feared. Surveys in 2006 in Kazakhstan counted 376 breeding pairs in an area of 145,000 km2.
Extrapolating this population density across the breeding range yields a possible total population size of 5,600 breeding pairs, i.e. 11,200 mature individuals; but work is continuing in order to refine this estimate. A satellite-tagged bird from central Kazakhstan was located in Turkey in October 2007 in a flock of 3,200 individuals, even larger than the total of simultaneous counts of over 1,500, maybe as high as 2,000, in northern Syria and 1,000 individuals in south-eastern Turkey in March 2007.
Two tagged birds were then tracked to wintering quarters in Sudan in February 2008, indicating that the sites in the Middle East are used for stopping over en route to Africa. Two further individuals, including one in far eastern Kazakhstan, were tagged in 2008.