Fun Masked Lapwing Facts For Kids

Abhishek Mishra
Oct 20, 2022 By Abhishek Mishra
Originally Published on Aug 29, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Find interesting masked lapwing facts for kids.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

Described by a French naturalist, Georges-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon, the masked lapwing (Vanellus miles) is a common species native to northern and eastern parts of Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea. The masked lapwing has two subspecies, Vanellus miles miles and Vanellus miles novaehollandiae, formerly known as the spur-winged plover.

This species is quite big and is closely related to waders. The masked lapwing has white underparts with brown wings and back and a black crown.

This species has large yellow wattles covering the face, and are equipped with a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing. The thorny spur is generally yellow with a black tip.

The Vanellus miles miles possess all-white neck and large yellow wattles. Unlike females, males have a distinctive mask and larger wattles while the spur-winged plover possesses a black neck-stripe and smaller wattles.

Masked lapwings are large ground-dwelling birds and this species generally inhabits marshes, mudflats, and beaches. Open environments such as grasslands also serve as their habitat. The masked lapwing generally becomes shy and harmless in months like summer and fall.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the species in the Least Concern category but habitat destruction and predation may result in a population decline in the future.

For more relatable content, check out these American golden plover facts and mountain plover facts for kids.

Masked Lapwing Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a masked lapwing?

Masked lapwings are large ground-dwelling birds that are known for their defensive swooping behavior during the nesting season. These birds jump on intruders or act like they have broken wings. They are carnivores and often prey on insects and worms. This species is also known as the masked plover.

What class of animal does a masked lapwing belong to?

The masked lapwing (Vanellus miles) belong to the class of Aves, the family of Charadriidae, and the Vanellus genus. The bird has two subspecies, Vanellus miles, and Vanellus miles novaehollandiae.

How many masked lapwings are there in the world?

The exact population of these birds is not known as of now but they are widely distributed to several countries. These birds have started making nests in human-populated areas as well.

Where does a masked lapwing live?

The masked lapwing is common throughout central, eastern, and northern Australia. This species is also found in New Guinea, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. Studies reveal that the birds found in New Zealand and New Caledonia are formed from the birds of Australia. Masked lapwings have also become quite common in countries like Indonesia.

While talking about the subspecies, the Vanellus miles miles is commonly found in coastal New Guinea, Aru Islands, and northern Australia whereas the Vanellus miles novaehollandiae is majorly found in southern Australia and New Zealand.

What is a masked lapwing's habitat?

The bird generally dwells in marshes, mudflats, beaches, and grasslands. Masked lapwings are common around the edges of wetlands but also have adapted themselves to live in arid areas. They have also started living near human settlements.

Who do masked lapwings live with?

Masked lapwings feed either solitary or in small groups. During the breeding season, these birds are found in pairs. Also, a family contains around three to five individuals.

How long does a masked lapwing live?

The average lifespan of the bird is around 16 years while some may live for around 20 years in the wild. The lifespan of this bird in captivity is not known.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of masked lapwings usually happens after June or the winter solstice but may occur even before. The bird also possesses several courtship calls that are used to attract a partner.

This species is known for its bold nesting habits and is quite prepared to build the nest anywhere, be it school playing fields or roofs of buildings. Females lay around three to five eggs and the eggs are incubated by both parents. Masked lapwings are very territorial and defend their territory against all intruders.

They dive on intruders or act like they have broken wings to ward off intruders from the nest. Chicks remain with their parents for around one to two years.

What is their conservation status?

The population of masked lapwings is generally affected by overuse of land and wetland drainage, however, the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the species in the Least Concern category. Predation can be another significant threat to masked lapwings.

Masked Lapwing Fun Facts

What do masked lapwing look like?

The masked lapwing (Vanellus miles) has white underparts with brown wings and back and a black crown. The species has large yellow wattles covering the face and are equipped with a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing.

The spur is generally yellow with a black tip. The masked lapwing subspecies look completely different from each other.

The spur-winged plover has black on the hind neck and sides of the breast and possesses smaller facial wattles while the Vanellus miles miles of northern Australia has an all-white neck and large yellow wattles. Young masked lapwings resemble adult birds but wing spur and facial wattles are either absent or smaller in size in these birds.

These masked lapwing facts will make you love them.

How cute are they?

The masked lapwing bird is one of the most fascinating birds you can find in countries like Australia and New Zealand. These birds are quite smart and they hop on a single leg to lure the attention of a potential predator so that the nest and chicks can be saved.

How do they communicate?

Like other birds, masked lapwings use similar methods to communicate. These birds generally possess a loud 'kekeke' call that can be heard at any time of the day and night. Also, these birds have distinct warning and courtship calls that are used to ward off predators and attract partners. Tactile, visual, and chemical cues are also used.

How big is a masked lapwing?

The average body weight and length of this species are around 0.42-0.90 lb (191-412 g) and 12-15 in (30-37 cm) respectively while the average wingspan of the bird is 30–33 in (75-85 cm). The subspecies Vanellus miles miles weighs around 0.42-0.66 lb (191-300 g) while the Vanellus miles novaehollandiae is larger and weighs around 0.65-0.90 lb (296–412 g).

These birds are three times bigger than snowy plovers and sanderlings.

How fast can a masked lapwing fly?

The exact speed of masked lapwing birds is not known but the species is quite agile when it comes to hunting insects. These birds spend most of their time on the ground and remain alert all the time. This species never sleeps properly.

How much does an masked lapwing weigh?

The average weight of masked lapwing is around 0.42-0.90 lb (191-412 g). The Vanellus miles novaehollandiae is bigger than the Vanellus miles miles subspecies.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and female birds. People generally refer to them as masked lapwings. Also, both sexes are similar.

What would you call a baby masked lapwing?

The babies of masked lapwings are known as chicks. Both parents generally raise the chicks for around one to two years.

What do they eat?

These birds are carnivores and mainly prey on worms and insects such as grasshoppers. Also, animals like carrion crows, domestic cats, gulls, stoats, red foxes make lapwings their prey.

Are they dangerous?

Masked lapwings are considered very territorial birds and the attacks on species like cats, dogs, and ravens are said to be quite vicious. Also, this species goes to any extent to protect their family members.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds generally belong to the wild and are not considered good pets but they have adapted themselves to live around humans.

Did you know...

The large yellow wattles generally help to spot these birds.

Maksed lapwings do not migrate.

Are lapwings and plovers the same?

Species like masked lapwings are often referred to as plovers as each of the wings is equipped with a yellow spur at the carpal joint. Lapwings, in general, have broad, rounded wings whereas plovers are known for having pointed wings. Unlike lapwings, plovers have a short bill.

How many eggs do masked lapwing lay?

Female masked lapwings generally lay about three to five eggs while both parents are involved in the incubation process. The nesting pair is quite territorial and can go to any extent to protect their family members.

They call loudly, spread their wings, swoop fast and low to save the eggs. It is said that masked lapwings living in suburban areas may never successfully breed due to increased disturbance from cars, people, and domestic animals.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our magpie fun facts and hawk interesting facts for kids pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable birds of prey coloring pages.

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Written by Abhishek Mishra

Bachelor of Arts specializing in History

Abhishek Mishra picture

Abhishek MishraBachelor of Arts specializing in History

As a content writer, Abhishek's passion for writing extends beyond professional content creation. With a Bachelor's degree in History from Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi, Abhishek is a skilled writer in both English and Hindi, bringing a creative flair to his work. He enjoys crafting satires and poetry and is dedicated to producing engaging and informative content.

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