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). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, 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 population is estimated to number 1-25,000 individuals (T. Dodman 2002 in litt. to Wetlands International). It is therefore tentatively placed in the band of 10,000-19,999 mature individuals.
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species.
Behaviour This species is a transequatorial migrant, adults migrating to and from breeding grounds through eastern and central D. R. Congo in November-December (returning in July-August with juveniles) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding is assumed to occur during the dry season (January-February in Nigeria and December-January in D. R. Congo) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On migration and in its wintering grounds the species may occur in flocks of up to 30-50 individuals (Johnsgard 1981; Hayman et al. 1986; Urban et al. 1986), exceptionally being recorded in a flock of 100 in Rwanda (Urban et al. 1986). Throughout the breeding season this species is solitary and nesting pairs are territorial (although they may nest close together on newly burnt ground if this habitat is scarce) (Johnsgard 1981). The species is crepuscular and feeds at dawn and dusk, occasionally remaining active during bright moonlit nights (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Habitat This species inhabits a wide variety of dry grassy habitats, including open savanna with Accacia gerrardii and Dychrostachys cinerea (in Rwanda), orchard-bush savanna (in Nigeria), recently burnt grassland (Urban et al. 1986), football fields and lawns (Urban et al. 1986; del Hoyo et al. 1996). It often occurs near rivers and lakes on open, bare ground, and on migration in D. R. Congo it occurs in cleared areas within forest (Urban et al. 1986).
Diet The species is carnivorous, consuming mostly insects (beetles, ants, butterfly and fly larvae, grasshoppers, crickets, bugs, earwigs and termites), but also molluscs, worms and small crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape (del Hoyo et al. 1996), preferably positioned in recently burnt grassland (where the nest is safe from new fires) (Johnsgard 1981; Hayman et al. 1986). Nests may also be positioned in close proximity to water (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in grassy or orchard-bush savanna, and sometimes also near buildings (Urban et al. 1986).
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Dodman, T., Dowsett, R.J., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Vanellus superciliosus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/08/2022.