Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely 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 is very large, and hence does not 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.

Population justification
The global population is estimated at 50,000-60,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2016). The European population is estimated at 50-100 pairs, which equates to 100-200 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species. The tiny European population is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).


This species is found from lowlands up to c. 1,800 m in Sri Lanka and at least 2,300 m in the Himalayas. It uses open areas near fresh or brackish water: rivers, mudbanks, wet grassland, pools, particularly on cultivated land, such as corn fields, grass fields and large gardens. It also uses open forests, waste, fallow and ploughed land and occasionally grass along highways (Wiersma and Kirwan 2016). Birds from the Turkish population have been recorded using dam lakes, farmland and riverine gravel islands. It lays from mid-April to late June in Iraq and between late June and early July (mainly April-May) in east Arabia. Race indicus breeds from March to August/September, in Sri Lanka it breeds during the south-west monsoon, primarily in June (Wiersma and Kirwan 2016). The nest is a shallow scrape, unlined or lined with small stones and debris, usually situated near water. Clutch size three to four eggs. The species feeds on beetles and other insects as well as molluscs, worms and crustaceans. It is resident, dispersive and in places migratory and in winter, generally moves down from high altitudes (Wiersma and Kirwan 2016).


The species is not known to be facing any major threats.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures in place for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research studies in to the species's ecology and population dynamics as well as into potential threats. The development of monitoring schemes should also be undertaken.


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Vanellus indicus. Downloaded from on 06/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/12/2023.