Banded Lapwing Click to enlarge image
Banded Lapwing Image: Jenny
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    25 cm to 29 cm
AMS405/156 Banded Lapwing
Scanned in 2005 for the Birds in the Backyard website Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum

The Banded Lapwing uses foot-tapping to disturb insects from cover, running to catch anything that moves.


The Banded Lapwing is a large plover with a broad black breast band and white throat. The upperparts are mainly grey-brown with white underparts. There is a black cap and broad white eye-stripe, with a yellow eye-ring and bill and a small red wattle over the bill. The legs are pinkish-grey. These lapwings have an upright stance and a slow walk, breaking into a faster trot when alarmed. They fly with quick, clipped wing-beats - giving them the name 'lapwing'.


Banded Lapwings prefer open, short grasslands such as heavily grazed paddocks, agricultural lands and saline herblands in dry and semi-arid regions.


Banded Lapwings are endemic to (found only in) Australia in the east, south and west of the mainland and in Tasmania. They are rarely found in northern Australia.


Banded Lapwings are nomadic, flying considerable distances at night to find suitable conditions of food and water.

Feeding and diet

Banded Lapwings chase insects with short runs and darts and may eat seeds in dry times. They prefer areas with very short grass, to find insects, worms, spiders and molluscs (snails and slugs).


Loud strident calls when alarmed or for contact - a plaintive three-note call, descending in pitch: 'a-chee-chee-chee'.

Banded Lapwing, Vanellus tricolor
Banded Lapwing, Vanellus tricolor Image: Purnell Collection
© Australian Museum

Breeding behaviours

Banded Lapwings need rain before breeding. The nest is a scrape on the ground, lined with dry grass and even sheep droppings. The eggs and chicks are speckled and well-camouflaged. They freeze and keep quite still at sign of danger. The parents defend their nest and young with great courage and will fly at human intruders, often with a distraction display, pretending to drag a broken wing.

  • Breeding season: June to November, varies with rainfall.
  • Clutch size: Three to four
  • Incubation: 28 days

Conservation status

Habitat has been increased by the clearing of woodland and converting land to agriculture, although improved pasture, with longer grass, is less suitable for the Banded Lapwings.


  • Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian New Zealand And Antartic Birds Vol. 2: (Raptors To Lapwings). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Pringle, J.D. 1987. The Shorebirds of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
  • Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.