Get to Know the Masked Lapwing Australia’s Beautiful Spur-winged Plover

Masked lapwing

Discover the World of the Masked Lapwing: From Its Striking Plumage to Its Elaborate Courtship Displays

The Masked lapwing, also known as the Spur-winged Plover, is a stunning bird native to Australia. Its scientific name, Vanellus miles, is derived from the Latin word for “little fan,” a reference to the shape of its wings.

One of the most striking physical characteristics of the Masked 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.


The Masked 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 Masked 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 Masked 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 Masked 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.

Conservation Status

Despite its wide distribution and generally abundant population, the Masked 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.

Efforts are being made to protect and conserve the Masked 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.

Despite the fact that the species is also known as the masked plover and is frequently referred to as the spur-winged plover or simply the plover in its native range, lapwings are classified in their own subfamily, Vanellinae, rather than the closely related plover subfamily, Charadriinae.

The nominate subspecies and the southern novaehollandiae are the two subspecies. The latter, which has distinct black markings on the shoulder and side of the chest, is sometimes considered a distinct species called the black-shouldered lapwing (Vanellus novaehollandiae).

Masked lapwing vs Black-shouldered lapwing

As a beloved and iconic species of Australian birdlife, the Masked 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.