Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).
Behaviour This species is an intra-African migrant; moving to lower altitudes (e.g. 1,500-2,000 m lower) for the winter in East Africa and South Africa, but remaining sedentary in Ethiopia (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996). It breeds between April and July in Ethiopia, between July and October in South Africa, and in all months of the year in Kenya and Tanzania (generally depending on the rains, although avoiding the wettest periods) (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). During the breeding season the species is found in solitary pairs or small, loose colonies, but during the non-breeding season it gathers in flocks of up to 50 individuals, occasionally thousands, and possibly up to 10,000 prior to migration (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). This species is chiefly diurnal, but migrates at night as well as by day (Urban, et al. 1986). Habitat Breeding This species breeds in short-sward grassland on highland plateau and mountain slopes, and at lower elevations on open plains, dry savanna (especially in areas with large wild or domestic ungulates and game animals), and burnt fields with newly grown grass (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Non-breeding In winter the species is found mainly at lower altitudes, where it occurs on wastelands, cultivated and fallow fields, meadows, airfields, coastal flats (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996) and golf-courses (Hockey, et al. 2005). Diet This species is carnivorous, its diet consisting of molluscs, earthworms, adult and larval insects (such as beetles and flies), and occasionally small fish (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Breeding site Its nest is a scrape in recently burnt short-sward grassland or on bare or newly ploughed land (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996).
This species is threatened by habitat loss in South Africa as a result of commercial afforestation (Allan, et al. 1997, Hockey, et al. 2005).
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Vanellus melanopterus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023.