The Black-shouldered Lapwing A Monogamous Species with a Strong Parenting Ethic

Black-shouldered Lapwing

Discover the Fascinating World of the Black-shouldered Lapwing: From Its Habitat to Its Diet

The Black-shouldered lapwing, also known as the Masked lapwing or Spur-winged Plover, is a fascinating bird native to Australia. Its scientific name, Vanellus novaehollandiae, reflects its Australian origins, with “novaehollandiae” meaning “new Holland,” the early European name for Australia.

Despite the fact that the species is also known as plovers and is frequently referred to as a plover, lapwings are classified in their own subfamily, Vanellinae, rather than the closely related plover subfamily, Charadriinae.

One of the most striking physical characteristics of the Black-shouldered lapwing is its distinctive black and white plumage, with a bright yellow head and neck. The bird is quite large, with a wingspan of up to 3 feet and weighing in at around 16 ounces. Its wings are long and narrow, with a distinctive “spur” of feathers on the shoulder that gives the bird its common name. In addition to its black shoulder patches, the Black-shouldered lapwing is also distinguished by its red eyes and bright yellow beak.


The Black-shouldered lapwing is a versatile bird, found in a variety of habitats throughout Australia, including grasslands, marshes, and even urban areas. It is also found in parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.


The diet of the Black-shouldered lapwing consists primarily of insects, worms, and small invertebrates, which it forages for on the ground. The bird is also known to eat small fruit and seeds, particularly during the breeding season.


When it comes to reproduction, the Black-shouldered lapwing is a monogamous species. Mating pairs often form long-term relationships, with both males and females participating in the nesting and rearing of young. The birds typically lay a single clutch of eggs per year, with each clutch containing three to four eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents for a period of around 25 days before hatching. Once the chicks hatch, both parents work together to care for them until they are ready to fledge, a process that takes around six weeks.


In terms of behavior, the Black-shouldered lapwing is a vocal and energetic bird. It is known for its distinctive “keeweewee” call, which is often heard during the breeding season. The bird is also known for its elaborate courtship displays, during which males will puff out their chest feathers and perform elaborate dance-like movements to attract a mate.


Despite its wide distribution and generally abundant population, the Black-shouldered lapwing is classified as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, the bird does face some threats, including habitat loss and degradation, as well as predation by introduced species such as cats and foxes.

Conservation Status

Efforts are being made to protect and conserve the Black-shouldered lapwing, including habitat restoration projects and breeding programs. In addition, education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the importance of protecting the bird’s habitat are also being undertaken.

As a beloved and iconic species of Australian birdlife, the Black-shouldered lapwing is an important part of the country’s natural heritage. With continued conservation efforts, we can ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and antics of these fascinating birds.