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Vanellus miles novaehollandiae.jpg
Vanellus miles novaehollandiae
Keichwa 01.jpg
Vanellus vanellus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Vanellus
Brisson, 1760

24, see text


Afribyx Mathews, 1913
Anomalophrys Sharpe, 1896
Anitibyx Wolters, 1974
Belonopterus Reichenbach, [1852]
Chaetusia Agassiz, 1846 (unjustified emendation)
Cheltusia Verreaux, 1855 (unjustified emendation)
Chettusia Bonaparte, 1838
Chetusia Gray, 1841 (unjustified emendation)
Choetusia Blyth, 1854 (unjustified emendation)
Dorypaltus Brodkorb, 1959
Hemiparra Salvadori, 1865
Hoplopterus Bonaparte, 1831
Hoploxypterus Bonaparte, 1856
Lobibyx Heine [1890]
Lobipluria Bonaparte, 1856 (lapsus)
Lobipluvia Bonaparte, 1856
Lobivanellus Strickland 1841
Microsarcops Sharpe 1896
Ptiloscelys Bonaparte, 1856
Sarciophorus Strickland 1841
Stephanibyx Reichenbach, [1852]
Rogibyx Mathews 1913
Tylibyx Reichenbach, [1852]
Vanellochettusia Brandt 1852
Xiphidiopterus Reichenbach, [1852]
and see text

Vanellus is the genus of waders which provisionally contains all lapwings except red-kneed dotterel, Erythrogonys cinctus. The name "vanellus" is Latin for "little fan", vanellus being the diminutive of vannus ("winnowing fan"). The name is in reference to the sound lapwings' wings make in flight.[1][2]


These long-legged waders mostly have strongly patterned plumage. Although the most familiar Eurasian lapwing, Vanellus vanellus (northern lapwing), has a wispy crest, only two other species do so. Red or yellow facial wattles are a more typical decoration.

Only northern, sociable, white-tailed, grey-headed and brown-chested lapwings are truly migratory species. The Andean lapwing moves downhill in winter.

Spur-winged, blacksmith, river, southern, Andean and pied lapwings are boldly patterned, red-eyed species with a spurred carpal (wrist) joint.

Many species have wattles which can be small (black-headed, spot-breasted, red-wattled and banded lapwings) or large (white-crowned, African wattled, yellow-wattled, Javan, and masked lapwings). The latter species are the largest of the plover family, since several exceed 30 cm (12 in).


The genus Vanellus was erected by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760.[3][4] The name was derived by tautonymy from the original binomial name of the northern lapwing Tringa vanellus introduced by Linnaeus in 1758.[4][5]Vanellus is the Medieval Latin for a "lapwing". It is a diminutive of the Latin vanus meaning "winnowing" or "fan".[6]

The systematics of Vanellus have hitherto resisted clear resolution. Essentially, no major revision can be brought to agree with another, and up to 19 genera were at one time recognized for the 24 lapwing species. While it might be desirable to split up this large and diverse genus a bit, the morphological characters are a confusing mix of apomorphic and plesiomorphic traits in any one species, with few relationships readily apparent. Molecular data has been found to provide even less sufficient resolution, though the lapwings have not yet been as thoroughly studied under this aspect as other Charadriiformes.[7]

The only thing that can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that according to the DNA sequence data one group of 5 species seems to stand out. These are wattle-less lapwings which were separated as Anitibyx, Belonopterus, Hoplopterus (in the narrow sense) and Ptiloscelys. They are visually very dissimilar, but it is notable that their distribution forms a clean band through the tropical regions of the world except Australia; they might conceivably form a clade. The only species among them that is migratory is the Andean lapwing (V. resplendens), which as noted above cannot be allied with the truly migratory lapwings on these grounds. However, if these were to be split off, for one thing it is almost certain that other lineages would also require separation; the new genus' name would probably be Hoplopterus, which is the longest- and most widely used alternative lapwing genus.[7]

List of species in taxonomic order

Alternatively placed in Hemiparra:

Alternatively placed in Anitibyx:

Alternatively placed in Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Sarciophorus, Lobivanellus or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Lobipluvia or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Xiphidiopterus or Hoplopterus:

  • White-crowned lapwing, white-headed lapwing, white-crowned plover or white-headed plover, Vanellus albiceps

Alternatively placed in Stephanibyx or Hoplopterus:

Crowned lapwing in Tanzania

Alternatively placed in Afribyx:

Alternatively placed in Tylibyx, Lobivanellus or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Anomalophrys:

Alternatively placed in Microsarcops or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Lobivanellus or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Rogibyx:

  • Javan lapwing, Javanese lapwing, or Javanese wattled lapwing, Vanellus macropterus

Alternatively placed in Zonifer, Lobivanellus or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Lobibyx, Lobivanellus or Hoplopterus:

Alternatively placed in Chettusia:

Alternatively placed in Vanellochettusia or Chettusia:

Alternatively placed in Hoploxypterus:

Alternatively placed in Belonopterus:

Alternatively placed in Ptiloscelys or Belonopterus:

Prehistoric species

Species known only from fossil or subfossil remains include:

  • Vanellus madagascariensis (14th century Madagascar)[8]
  • Vanellus lilloi (Middle/Late Pleistocene of Centinela del Mar, Argentina)
  • Vanellus downsi (Late Pleistocene of Rancho La Brea, USA)
  • Vanellus edmundi (Late Pleistocene of Talalra, Peru)

The last three of these seem to be very closely related to the southern lapwing and all were placed in Belonopterus by the describing authors. If Viator picis, also from the Late Pleistocene of Talara, does not belong to an entirely extinct lineage, it might belong to that group too; it seems too large to be closely related to the smallish pied lapwing.[9]

Neither the Early Oligocene Dolicopterus[10] from Ronzon, France nor the supposed mid-Oligocene lapwing "Vanellus" selysii of Rupelmonde (Belgium) unquestionably belong here. While their age suggests that they may indeed represent some ancient lapwings, the fossil remains have not been studied for many decades and a review is seriously overdue.[11]


  1. ^ Terres & NAS (1980): p.741
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 397. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode Contenant la Division des Oiseaux en Ordres, Sections, Genres, Especes & leurs Variétés (in French and Latin). Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. Vol. 1, p. 48, Vol. 5, p. 94.
  4. ^ a b Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 235.
  5. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Volume 1 (in Latin) (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 148.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 398. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  7. ^ a b Piersma & Wiersma (1996), Thomas et al. (2004)
  8. ^ Goodman, Steven M (1997). "Description of a new species of subfossil lapwing (Aves: Charadriiformes, Charadriidae, Vanellus) from Madagascar". Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. 18: 607-614.
  9. ^ Campbell (2002)
  10. ^ Not Dolichopterus, contra Mlíkovský (2002)
  11. ^ Mlíkovský (2002)


Further reading

  • Hayman, Peter; Marchant, John & Prater, Tony (1986): Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. ISBN 0-395-60237-8
  • Terres, John K. & National Audubon Society (1980): The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. ISBN 0-394-46651-9

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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