The Crowned Lapwing inhabits dry, open habitats like pastures, short grassy savannas, open patches in bushveld, shrublands, semi-deserts and cultivated fields, golf courses and sports fields, avoiding areas where the grass is any taller than 60mm. It is especially fond of overgrazed or recently burnt areas. They feed on insects, especially termites, and other invertebrates.
Outside of the breeding season, Crowned Lapwings come together in loosely associated flocks, usually numbering between 10 and 40 though occasionally as many as 150 individuals, and often associate with the closely related Blacksmith Lapwing. Crowned Lapwings pair for life. They prefer to nest in shallow scrapes on the ground, among newly sprouting grass following veld fires and often in the shade of trees. The nest is further camouflaged with little stones, dry dung, dried grass, etc. In areas with high density, nests are spaced between 25 and 50m apart. Spring is the peak breeding season although some pairs may nest throughout the year. Females are mainly responsible for incubating the eggs, of which there are 2 to 4 in a clutch, though the males will take over for short periods in hot weather. The chicks leave the nest within hours of hatching, walking around and searching for food with their parents. They fledge at about 4 weeks old but often stay with their parents until the start of the next breeding season.
Crowned Lapwings can live up to 20 years of age and weigh on average around 185g.
The IUCN considers the Crowned Lapwing of least concern – it has an increasing population (thanks in no small part to human modification of the environment) and wide distribution over East and Southern Africa. It is found in high densities in all South African provinces.