Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Charadriidae
  • Polytypic: 4 subspecies
  • Authors: Eduardo S. A. Santos


Geographic Variation

Four subspecies of Southern Lapwing are recognized (Hellmayr and Conover 1948, Blake 1977, Hayman et al. 1986, Piersma 1996).

V.c. cayennensis - Central American and northern South America south to the north bank of the Amazon River. More white and less black on face; also, the black of the face is separated from the black of the breast. The crown and the sides of the head and neck cinnamon brown, or at least have a cinnamon brown wash.

V.c. lampronotus - South of the Amazon River south through central, eastern and southern Brazil to northern Chile and northern Argentina. Head color mainly intermediate brown-gray, with neat white line down face. The black of the face and the chin continues as a black stripe down the throat, meeting the black of the breast patch.

V.c. chilensis - Argentina and Chile south to Chiloé Island and Comodoro Rivadavia. Similar to lampronotus, but the gray of the crown and of the sides of the head and neck is a clearer gray.

V.c. fretensis - Southern Chile and southern Argentina. Similar to V.c. chilensis but smaller.

The two southern subspecies (chilensis and fretensis) have clearer gray heads than the two northern subspecies (cayennensis and lampronotus), and also are relatively longer-winged and shorter-legged.

There is no other source of information on geographic variation and population structure of the subspecies of Southern Lapwings.

Related Species

Southern Lapwings are members of the family Charadriidae (Plovers). Only one source of information accounts for fossil record data on Plovers. Some of the first fossil evidence of members of the modern plovers (shorebirds) has been assigned to the genus Vanellus. This fossil dates from the middle Oligocene (30 million years ago, Piersma 1996).
The lapwings (subfamily Vanellinae) are composed of 25 extant species divided in two genera (Piersma 1996). This group seems to be monophyletic based on several morphological and biochemical studies (Piersma 1996)., but there are no phylogenetic studies of the genus.

Recommended Citation

Santos, E. S. A. (2010). Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.