Family Plovers (Charadriidae)

Least Concern

White-headed Lapwing (Vanellus albiceps)


French: Vanneau à tête blanche German: Weißscheitelkiebitz Spanish: Avefría coroniblanca
Other common names: White-crowned Lapwing

Vanellus albiceps


, 1834,

Niger River or Fernando Po


Sometimes placed in genus Hoplopterus or in monospecific Xiphidiopterus. Monotypic.


Senegambia and Sierra Leone E to South Sudan, and S through W & C DRCongo to NW Angola; W Uganda#R,SE Tanzania; R Zambezi and S Mozambique.

Descriptive notes

28–32 cm; 161–214 g. Lapwing with large yellow wattles, distinctive white crown band, and long black carpal spurs; wings extensively white, with outer primaries... read more


A single, high-pitched, ringing and often-repeated “pew” or “peeuw”, with a quality reminiscent of... read more


Sandy riverbanks in open country and forests; prefers large rivers with sandbanks or islands;... read more

Food and feeding

Takes insects, including beetles, ants, mantids and mutillid wasps; worms, molluscs, crustaceans and small fish; also some vegetable matter... read more


Laying Jan–Mar (Dec–May) in W & C Africa; Jul–Oct (Nov) in SE Africa (e.g. Zambia); mainly during dry season.... read more


In W Africa, migrates to drier areas when rivers flood, with movements recorded in Gambia, Sierra... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total population estimated to number 56,000–128,000 birds, of which 30,000–70,000 in W & C Africa, 6000–8000 in... read more

Recommended citation

Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). White-headed Lapwing (Vanellus albiceps). 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 8 December 2019).