The crowned lapwing (Vanellus coronatus), or crowned plover, is easily recognized by its combination of brown and white colours, with most tellingly, a black crown intersected by an annular white halo. Adults are noisy and conspicuous. Males measure on average 3% larger than females. Juveniles are dull versions of adults, vermiculated on the wings and mantle, the legs yellowy rather than red and the bill lacking the red base.


Habitat and Distribution

It occurs contiguously from the Red Sea coast of Somalia to southern and southwestern Africa. Crowned lapwings prefer short, dry grassland which may be overgrazed or burnt, but avoid mountains. In higher-rainfall areas such as parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe, they occur mainly as dry-season visitors. In dry regions of northern Botswana, however, they are attracted in large numbers when good rainfall occurs. In southern Africa their highest concentrations are to be found in the dry central Kalahari region.


Feeding

Their diet consists of a variety of insects, but termites form an important component.


Breeding

Crowned lapwings and the more localized black-winged lapwings sometimes associate and do not show mutual aggression, even within breeding territories. Different crowned lapwing males do however posture aggressively when nesting territories are established. The loser in an encounter assumes a special posture to signal his defeat. Bare-part colours of males brighten in the breeding season. Different types of display flights lure the female to the defended territory. A female accepting the male and territory will follow the male during his display flight. Mates may be retained for life. Egg-laying is timed to precede the rainy season and most incubating is done by the female. The male assists only on hot days, when he either incubates or shades the nest.


Calls and Songs

It is an adaptable and numerous species, with bold and noisy habits.