Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Vanellus indicus (Boddaert, 1783)

Species:V. indicus
Common Names:Red-wattled Lapwing
Status:Uncommon resident


This species has a very distinctive red, fleshy wattle.

Size: 31–35 cm

Read more about the Charadriiformes order.
Read more about the Charadriidae family.


This species breeds in northeastern India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, the Langkawi group and north Sumatra.


In Singapore, the Red-wattled Lapwing has been sighted in various places, including Bukit Batok West, Changi, Chua Chu Kang, Kranji Marshes, Ponggol, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, Seletar Airport, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Tuas and Western Catchment.

Locality Map

General Biology

The Red-watted Lapwing can be found in cultivated land, marshes and wet grassland, mostly on the western part of Singapore. It is very noisy in flight, withan exaggerated flap and very distinctive calls, as it flies over open country.

On late May 2010 an adult was photographed in flight with a few primary flight feathers undergoing unusual moulting.


It feeds on worms, slugs and insects.

Life Cycle

Chicks recorded in Feb, Apr and May. However in Malaysia a chick was spotted on 13th Jan 2014, probably not more than a week old pecking away searching for insects. When a raptor was sighted above, the adults gave their alarm call and the chicks took cover and crouched low. Adults will also try to distract people from their chicks in the field - see HERE and HERE.

The nest is an an unlined scrape in a short grass area, sand or soil. 

A pair seen taking turns incubating three eggs in early June had their eggs predated a few days later. Another nesting, this time in December, somehow had their four eggs 'pushed' out of the nest, resulting in another failed nesting. Generally a high percentage of nesting fail in the tropics.


Previously rather rare. First recorded in Singapore on 21 Nov 1879, when one was shot in a swampy valley behind the Tanglin Barracks (Kelham, 1883). There were some sightings in the winter of 1940–1941 (Molesworth in Gibson-Hill, 1949). There were sporadic sightings since, mostly on the western part of Singapore.

It is getting commoner, with more sightings and quite a few breeding records since 2003.

Breeding has only been recorded in Singapore as recently as 2003.


Gibson-Hill, C. A. 1949a. A checklist of the birds of Singapore Island. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum, 21: 132-183.

Wang, L. K., 2011. Plovers. Pp. 417. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L. K. & C. J. Hails, 2007. An annotated checklist of the birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179.

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