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From the Field: Southern Lapwing

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

In terms of appearance, lapwings are stocky birds with large heads and short tails. Their faces, necks and part of their chests are black; the black on their faces and throats bordered by white, the crown of their heads gray. In stark contrast, their bodies are a glossy olive-green, the shoulders slightly bronze, and the belly smooth and white. 

Southern Lapwings are largely sedentary, but populations in the extreme south of their range migrate to warmer areas in the winter.  

They are common birds throughout their whole range (from Costa Rica to the 

southernmost tip of South America).   

The species is well adapted to open grasslands and can be found also on the coastline, near bodies of water, and even inland, away from major bodies of water. 

Southern Lapwings have red spurs found at the ‘wrist’ area, which can be used in combat or for protecting their nests. As soon as they sense danger or spot an intruder, they shriek frantically and fly farther and farther away. 

Most available published studies on the Southern Lapwing have been conducted on populations that inhabit human altered habitats. This fact supports the notion that this species may benefit from human-induced habitat alterations, most of which result in more open habitats that are suitable for Southern Lapwings during both breeding and nonbreeding seasons. 


Santos, Eduardo S. A.. 2010. Southern Lapwing(Vanellus chilensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. 

Species profile: Southern Lapwing. Conservación Patagónica

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