African AnimalsAfrican birding

Wattled Plover (Vanellus senegallus)

It is a large, brownish bird with a distinct yellow wattle, accentuated by a red base. Pair or small groups are often seen in wet grasslands and marshes, though they can also be found in cropped or burnt grasslands, and cultivated fields. They attract attention with their loud “peep-peep-peep” calls.

Read further to know more about the Wattled Plover.

What is a Wattled Plover?

The Wattled Plover (Vanellus senegallus), also regarded as the African Wattled Lapwing, is a large-sized lapwing, coming from the Charadriidae family, a group of large waders. It is a resident bird found outside the rainforests of sub-Saharan countries, though it may also have seasonal movements.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Charadriidae

Genus: Vanellus

Species: V. senegallus

Wattled Plover Physical Description

Wattled Plovers are unmistakable birds. They are conspicuous due to their dark brown plumage, with face and neck streaked, a black crown, and yellow facial wattles, protruding from a red base. They have white tails with a black edge. They have long legs, which are also yellow.

When in flight, their black flight feathers and brown tectrix on their upperwings can be observed, which is divided by a white line. Meanwhile, their underwings are white, still with dark flight feathers.

These birds have an average length of 13.5 inches and an average weight of 250 grams.

Where can they be spotted?

Wattled Plovers thrive in open, moist areas or wet lowland habitats, such as damp grassland, flood plains, seeps on marshes. However, it may find food in drier habitats, such as cultivated land, or cropped and burned grassland, feeding insects and other invertebrates they can forage from the ground. They occur in sub-Saharan countries in southern Africa and are commonly found in Namibia, Botswana, southern Mozambique, Swaziland, and north-eastern South Africa.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Wattled Plover

Wattle Plovers’ diet primarily revolves on insects. They forage slowly on the ground, searching for prey. Some of the food items they feast on include locusts, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, worms, and termites. Occasionally, they also eat grass seeds.

These birds are resident during the breeding season, though movements to other areas may occur once the rainy season sets in. Wattled plovers are monogamous nesters, and develop life-long bonds with their partners.

Males can be tenacious towards one another, especially at the onset of the breeding season. They often engage in fights, striking one another with their wings. However, it will dwindle down as the breeding season progresses, and will rely on calling or posturing to ward off other males.

Wattled Plover males are responsible for building the nest by making a shallow depression on the ground. The females will choose which nest she will lay her eggs in. When the female picks a nest, it will support it with roots, grass, small stones, and even dry dung. She will lay 2-4 eggs, which both sexes incubate from around 28-32 days. Since they are ground nesters, they are often confronted by predators, which both parents mob away.

Their chicks usually come out of the nest within a day after it hatches. But, at least one parent will tend to the chicks for the next six weeks. Chicks will stay in the family group until the start of the next breeding season.

The Wattled Plovers’ population is not threatened. They have a widespread distribution and may commonly occur in many areas. In fact, their number may have benefited from the changes human activities have done in their preferred habitats.

WILDLIFE PARKS AND RESERVES WHERE THIS SPECIES IS FOUND:

ZAMBIA

Kafue

Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

ZIMBABWE

Gona-re-Zhou

Hwange

Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls

NAMIBIA

Caprivi Region

Etosha National Park

BOTSWANA

Chobe National Park

Makgadikgadi Pan

Moremi Game Reserve

Savute

AFRICA

Kruger National Park

Wattled Plover
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