Family Plovers (Charadriidae)

Least Concern

Black-winged Lapwing (Vanellus melanopterus)


French: Vanneau à ailes noires German: Schwarzflügelkiebitz Spanish: Avefría lugubroide
Other common names: Greater Black-winged Lapwing

Charadrius melanopterus


, 1829,

Djedda (Jeddah), Arabia


Sometimes placed in Hoplopterus or Stephanibyx. Probably close to V. lugubris, but some behavioural and morphological differences. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. m. melanopterus (Cretzschmar, 1829) – Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  • V. m. minor (Zedlitz, 1908) – SW Kenya to CN Tanzania; E South Africa (Mpumalanga S to E Western Cape and Eastern Cape) and Swaziland; winters on coast, from extreme S Mozambique to E Western Cape.
  • Descriptive notes

    26–27 cm; 163–214 g (race minor). Very similar to V. lugubris, but larger, with legs averaging slightly shorter; sheen on upperparts bronze to... read more


    Gives varied loud cries and screaming calls, including a harsh “tlu-wit” and “che-che-che-chereck... read more


    Often occupies highland plains and grassland on high plateaux, mountain slopes, open plains and dry... read more

    Food and feeding

    Molluscs, worms, adult and larval insects, such as beetles and flies, sometimes small fish. Often feeds in vicinity of wild or domestic... read more


    Laying Mar–Jul in Ethiopia; year-round in Kenya and Tanzania, depending on rains, and avoiding wettest period; Jul–Oct in South... read more


    Resident and intra-African migrant: migratory in most of E Africa, but sedentary in Ethiopia,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Status of race melanopterus poorly known, but pre-migratory flocks of several thousand birds recorded in W Kenya, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black-winged Lapwing (Vanellus melanopterus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).