Learn All About the Southern Lapwing

November 2, 2019
In this very interesting article, learn all about the southern lapwing, a beautiful bird. Read on!

The southern lapwing, or Vanellus chilensis, is an elegant bird with thin, long legs that defends its nest and chicks. It inhabits a large part of South America. Here on My Animals, we’re going to share some facts about the southern lapwing, a small wading bird that plays an important role in controlling agricultural pests.

A bird that inhabits a large part of South America

It’s very common to see this bird and hear its distinctive call in the plains of Argentina and Uruguay. But it’s also found in areas of:

  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Paraguay

The southern lapwing is normally found in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, or grasslands. While it’s more common in open spaces, it also inhabits urban areas. Some people even have them as pets, since it’s considered an excellent guardian that alerts of any strange movements with its calls and keeps places insect-free.

Meet the southern lapwing, a small wading bird that inhabits a large part of South America and is characterized by being a fierce defender of its nest and chicks.

Characteristics of the southern lapwing

This wading bird that looks a lot like the northern lapwing has the following physical characteristics:

A southern lapwing bird.

  • It is 13 to 15 inches in length and weighs approximately 1 pound.
  • This bird has a short red and black beak.
  • It has round, bright red eyes.
  • It has long, thin, red legs. This bird has three forward-facing toes and a short backward-facing one.
  • The southern lapwing has gray-brown upper parts, with some violet hues in its wings and black and white underparts.
  • Its crest has thin, black plumage.
  • It has spurs under its wings, which it uses to scare possible enemies.
  • The southern lapwing usually rests by lying on just one of its legs, while holding the other close to its body. Also, it often bends its legs backwards.

More information about the southern lapwing

Although this small wading bird feeds mostly on insects, worms, and small vertebrates, it also often eats raw meat.

Its hunting techniques are fun to watch. One of them consists of running a few steps, stopping, and launching a forward peck. Another is to stir the ground with its legs, as if it were stomping, to detect potential prey beneath the earth.

This bird has sedentary habits and is usually seen in pairs or small groups. And, since it makes its nests in open spaces on the ground, it takes great care of its eggs and nestlings. Therefore, it’s always on the lookout for any strange movement.

If it believes there’s a threat, it emits its characteristic call and tries to mislead potential predators by calling, flying, or by brooding far away from its real nests. But it can also fly low to graze intruders with its spurs.

A bird that doesn’t go unnoticed

We hope you’ve learned a lot about the southern lapwing, a small wading bird that became the symbol of the Uruguay national rugby union team, besides being the country’s national bird.

It also figures in many myths and legends. Naturalist Charles Darwin also noticed this bird while traveling through South America. He stated that these birds were useful for travelers, as they call out when possible road robbers are close.