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Charadriidae – Plovers and Lapwings

Blacksmith Lapwing in South Africa: Photo by David Irving

Welcome to our guides on Charadriidae, a family found across diverse habitats worldwide. With about 68 species, this family is known for its variety of plovers and lapwings. Charadriids are typically small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short bills, and relatively long legs, which allow them to maneuver easily in their preferred habitats. They frequent shorelines, mudflats, and grasslands, foraging for insects and other invertebrates. The vibrant plumage and distinctive behaviors of many species make them an intriguing group to explore further.

Overview of Charadriidae

From the subtle Diademed Sandpiper-Plover of the high Andes to the bold and assertive Vanellus lapwings found around the world, plovers showcase a wide range of behaviors. Ecologically, however, they are quite consistent. These birds prefer open shores, where they forage for food on the surface of sand or mud in quick sprints interrupted by sudden stops to peck for prey and scan for potential threats. Like waterfowl, smaller species often protect their nests through stealth, while larger ones stand guard. This size variation also affects flight styles: smaller plovers tend to have swift, direct flight, while lapwings exhibit a more leisurely flight with slow, deep wing strokes.