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Blacksmith Lapwing
(Vanellus armatus)

Blacksmith Lapwing

General description

Blacksmith Lapwings are very boldly patterned and unlikely to be confused with other species in the region. They have very distinctive black, white and grey plumage and black legs.

Sexes are alike but the male has longer wing spurs.

Juveniles black plumage is slightly browner.

Call is a metallic "klink-klink-klink" like the blacksmith's hammer on an anvil.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Vanellus armatus

Common names:
Blacksmith Lapwing (English)
Bontkiewiet (Afrikaans)

Blacksmith Plover

Roberts VII english name:
Blacksmith Lapwing

Roberts VII scientific name:
Vanellus armatus

Plovers (Charadriidae)

Further information



This lapwing feeds on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

They sometimes forage on the water's edge by foot-trembling

During the breeding season, the species often reacts aggressively to other lapwings or African Jacanas that may enter its wetland habitat.

Nests are shallow scrapes on bare ground or short grass, close to water, and tend to be spaced at least 400m apart.

Incubation is by both sexes and takes 26-33 days.

These birds are extremely aggressive towards intruders (including humans) whilst tending to chicks.

The young separate gradually from their parents and do not return to natal areas afterwards.

Natural distribution:
Occurs commonly from Kenya through central Tanzania to southern and southwestern Africa

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. Although they are partially migratory, they do not seem to engage in large-scale, regular migrations.

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