Blacksmith Lapwing

Vanellus armatus

Blacksmith Lapwings inhabit grasslands (dry or wet), mud flats or agricultural fields, golf courses and sports fields, almost always within a kilometre or two from a reliable water source, and feed on insects, worms and aquatic invertebrates. They are usually seen alone or in pairs, though they do at times congregate in flocks that number a hundred or more in response to a locally abundant food supply, especially outside the breeding season. Blacksmith Lapwings get their name from their call, which sounds almost like a blacksmith’s hammer hitting an anvil, and weigh around 160g with a wingspan just short of 80cm.

While they may breed throughout the year, nesting in this species reaches a peak at the end of the dry season in South Africa. Pairs nest well away from others of their kind and are highly territorial during the breeding season. The nest is a shallow scrape out in the open on the bare ground or among short grass, and near water, lined with vegetation, stones or mud. Both parents incubate the clutch of 1-4 eggs for around 4 weeks. Breeding birds will aggressively defend their eggs and chicks against anyone or anything that venture too close. The hatchlings fledge at about 40 days old, and then become independent about a month later.

The Blacksmith Lapwing has an increasing population distributed over much of Africa south of the equator and is considered of least concern by the IUCN. It can be found almost anywhere in South Africa.

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