The African Wattled Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus senegallus
These are conspicuous and unmistakable birds. They are large brown waders with a black crown, white forehead and large yellow facial wattles. The tail is white, tipped black, and the long legs are yellow.
This species is a common breeder in wet lowland habitats, especially damp grassland. It often feeds in drier habitats, such as golf courses, picking insects and other invertebrates from the ground. It lays three or four eggs on a ground scrape.
White-Crowned Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus albiceps
This Plover is unmistakable. Its wings and tail are strikingly patterned in black and white, the back is brown and the under parts white. The head is particularly striking, being mainly grey, but with a white crown and fore neck. The eye ring, facial wattles and legs are yellow. Females, males and young birds are similar in plumage.
It is a wader which breeds on exposed sand or shingle near rivers. 2-3 eggs are laid in a ground scrape. The nest and young are defended noisily and aggressively against all intruders, up to and including the hippo.
Food is mainly insects and other small invertebrates. This species often feeds in small flocks when not breeding.
The Crowned Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus coronatus.
The Crowned Lapwing is easily recognized by its combination of brown and white colours, with most tellingly, a black crown intersected by an annular white halo. Adults are noisy and conspicuous.
Males measure on average 3% larger than females. Juveniles are dull versions of adults, vermiculated on the wings and mantle, the legs yellowy rather than red and the bill lacking the red base.
Crowned Lapwings prefer short dry grassland which may be overgrazed or burnt, but avoid mountains. In higher-rainfall areas such as parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe, they occur mainly as dry-season visitors. In dry regions of northern Botswana however, they are attracted in large numbers when good rainfall occurs. In southern Africa their highest concentrations are to be found in the dry central Kalahari region.
The Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus armatus.
Blacksmith Lapwings are very boldly patterned in black, grey and white, possibly warning colours to predators. It is one of five lapwing species (two African, one Asian and two Neotropical) that share the characteristics of a carpal (wing) spur, red eye and a bold pied plumage. The bare parts are black. Females average larger and heavier but the sexes are generally alike.
The Blacksmith Lapwing occurs in association with wetlands of all sizes. Even very small damp areas caused by a spilling water trough can attract them. In South Africa they are most numerous in the mesic grassland region, less so in higher-rainfall grasslands. Like the Crowned Lapwing, this species may leave Zambia and Zimbabwe in years of high rainfall and return in dry years. It avoids mountains of any type.
Blacksmith Lapwings expanded their range in the 20th century into areas where dams were built and where intensive farming was practiced. Consequently they are now numerous and established in the western Cape region of South Africa, where they were absent until the 1930s. In this region they have also entered estuarine mud flats in winter where they aggressively displace other waders.
Blacksmith Plovers nest and eggs.. These birds defend their nests with a vengeance, dive bombing me from all heights..