Family Plovers (Charadriidae)

Least Concern

Grey-headed Lapwing (Vanellus cinereus)


French: Vanneau à tête grise German: Graukopfkiebitz Spanish: Avefría ceniza
Other common names: Grey-headed Plover

Pluvianus cinereus


, 1842,

Calcutta, India


Sometimes placed in genus Hoplopterus or, formerly, in monospecific Microsarcops. Monotypic.


NE & E China (Inner Mongolia, C Manchuria, Jiangsu, Fujian), neighbouring parts of Russia and Japan (Honshu). Non-breeding in S Asia from Nepal, N#R#R & NE India and Bangladesh to SC China and N Indochina, occasionally farther S.

Descriptive notes

34–37 cm; 236–296 g; wingspan 75–76 cm. Large, rather plain lapwing with grey head, neck and upper breast, black breastband, brown upper­parts and white... read more


Mostly silent, at least in winter, but flying birds occasionally give a sharp “kik” note, a... read more


Breeds in rather undisturbed areas in swamps, near rivers and rice fields. In winter also found in... read more

Food and feeding

No information available; probably feeds on insects, worms and molluscs. Often wades in water while foraging. Gregarious, especially in... read more


Season Mar–Apr in Japan. Monogamous. Territorial. Breeds in undisturbed wetlands, e.g. river flats; but also in rice fields; nest is... read more


Mainly migratory, but sedentary in places. Breeding populations of NE China and SE Russia winter in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Near Threatened. Population, excluding Japan, numbers less than 10,000–25,000 birds, and probably... read more

Recommended citation

Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Grey-headed Lapwing (Vanellus cinereus). 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 February 2020).