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Pied plover

Pied plover
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Hoploxypterus
Bonaparte, 1856
H. cayanus
Binomial name
Hoploxypterus cayanus
(Latham, 1790)
  • Charadrius cayanus Latham, 1790
  • Hoploxypterus cayanus (Latham, 1790)

The pied plover (Hoploxypterus cayanus), also known as the pied lapwing, is a species of bird in the family Charadriidae. It is a bird of least concern according to the IUCN and can be found in northern South America. The species name cayanus refers to Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, where the pied plover can be found.

There is confusion around its common name. Historically, the pied plover was considered to be a plover, which is a bird part of the subfamily Charadriinae. Most recently, it has been moved to the subfamily Vanellinae, which are the lapwings. The pied plover is still referred to as a plover because it physically resembles that group of birds in shape and size. However, based on taxonomy, it is more correct to refer to it as a lapwing.


The pied plover belongs to the order Charadriiformes known as the shorebirds. It is placed within the family Charadriidae and is the only species placed in the genus Hoploxypterus that was introduced in 1856 by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte.[3] The pied plover was formerly placed in the genus Vanellus but molecular phylogenetic studies have shown that it is not closely related to the other lapwings.[4][5]


The pied plover is a strongly marked bird with a black and white pattern, buff on its back and wings, and white on its abdomen. Its eyes are encircled with bright red eye-rings. It has a prominent black V on its upper back and has long, red legs.[6][7] It is a medium-sized bird like most of the species in the family Charadriidae, measuring around 22 centimeters.[7]

There is no sexual dimorphism in this species; both males and females look the same.[7] Juveniles look similar, with the exception of them being more buff and the presence of buff eye-rings instead of red ones.[8]

Pied plovers are a quiet species, not calling very often.[8] Their call sounds like “kee-oo”, with the second part lower in pitch.[9] When flying during their display, their call resembles repeated “klee” sounds.[10]

Distribution and habitat

Pied plovers live along the shores of lakes and rivers where there is sand and mud.[8] They reside in the northern part of South America with their range covering Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.[11]

Not much is known about its movements, but the pied plover seems to change habitat during different parts of the year. It has been observed to move as high as 2600 meters in altitude in Bolivia, possibly due to the wet season pushing it to higher ground.[12]

Behavior and ecology

Little is known about the pied plover’s behavior. Conflicting behavior has been reported. At Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil, they have been observed to flock only with members of their own species, not mixing with other waders along the shores.[13] However, pied plovers at Tambopata Reserve in Peru were seen alone or in pairs, not flocking together.[14]

Food and feeding

Not much is known about their diet. They mainly eat insects and snails but have been seen holding on to a crustacean with their bill, though it is unclear if they eat them.[8] Notable prey for the pied plover are scorpions, which was documented in Brazil.[15]


Their displays consist of flying in the air in an undulatory pattern as they call. While on the ground, they stand facing each other with their wings spread. Generally, pied plovers mate between May and July and lay their eggs in July, though this varies by region.[16]

Pied plovers nest on the ground, digging a shallow hole. The nest is unlined and their eggs are directly touching the ground. When they leave the nest, they cover the eggs with sand for protection.[16]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Vanellus cayanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Pied Lapwing (Vanellus cayanus)". Avibase.
  3. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2023). "Buttonquail, thick-knees, sheathbills, plovers, oystercatchers, stilts, painted-snipes, jacanas, Plains-wanderer, seedsnipes". IOC World Bird List Version 13.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  4. ^ Černý, David; Natale, Rossy (2022). "Comprehensive taxon sampling and vetted fossils help clarify the time tree of shorebirds (Aves, Charadriiformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 177: 107620. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2022.107620. PMID 36038056.
  5. ^ Livezey, Bradley C. (2010). "Phylogenetics of modern shorebirds (Charadriiformes) based on phenotypic evidence: analysis and discussion". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 160 (3): 567–618. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00635.x. S2CID 86108984.
  6. ^ Perlo, Ber van (2009). A field guide to the birds of Brazil. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195301540.
  7. ^ a b c "Pied Lapwing". Peru Aves. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  8. ^ a b c d Wiersma, Popko; Kirwan, Guy M. (2020-03-04), Del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David; De Juana, Eduardo (eds.), "Pied Lapwing (Vanellus cayanus)", Birds of the World, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, doi:10.2173/bow.pielap1.01, S2CID 241419352, retrieved 2021-11-11
  9. ^ Hilty, Steven L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
  10. ^ Hayman, P. (1986). Shorebirds. An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World. London, UK: Croom Helm.
  11. ^ "Hoploxypterus cayanus (Pied Lapwing) - Avibase". Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  12. ^ Lane, Daniel F. (2014). "New and noteworthy records of birds in Bolivia" (PDF). Cotinga. 36: 56–67.
  13. ^ Olmos, Fábio (March 1993). "Birds of Serra da Capivara National Park, in the "caatinga" of north-eastern Brazil". Bird Conservation International. 3 (1): 21–36. doi:10.1017/s0959270900000769. ISSN 0959-2709.
  14. ^ Foster, Robin B. (1994). The Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone of Southeastern Perú: A Biological Assessment. Rapid Assessment Program Working Papers.
  15. ^ Polis, Gary A.; Sissom, W. David; McCormick, Sharon J. (December 1981). "Predators of scorpions: field data and a review". Journal of Arid Environments. 4 (4): 309–326. Bibcode:1981JArEn...4..309P. doi:10.1016/s0140-1963(18)31477-0. ISSN 0140-1963.
  16. ^ a b Hilty, Steven L. (1986). A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University.
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Pied plover
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