Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 August 2017 | 9(8): 10613–10617







Wintering of the Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus (Aves: Charadriiformes: Charadriidae) in Kerala, India

R. Roshnath


Ecology and Evolutionary Lab, Department of Animal Sciences, Central University of Kerala, Padannakad, Kerala 671316, India






doi: | ZooBank:


Editor: P.O. Nameer, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur, India. Date of publication: 26 August 2017 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 3145 | Received 18 November 2016 | Final received 28 July 2017 | Finally accepted 02 August 2017


Citation: Roshnath, R. (2017). Wintering of the Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus (Aves: Charadriiformes: Charadriidae) in Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(8): 10613–10617;


Copyright: © Roshnath 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: None.


Competing interests: The author declares no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Praveen J. for suggesting the study. Special acknowledgment to Prasanth Narayanan, Abhinand Chandran, Jinesh P.S. and C. Sashikumar for reviewing the manuscript. I am also grateful to Vijesh Valikunnu and Rayees Rahman for providing pictures of Grey-headed Lapwing for publishing.






Abstract: Sightings of Grey-headed Lapwings wintering in Kerala were compiled from different sources. With a total of 77 sightings from 1999–2016 in Kerala the bird, which was earlier thought to be a rare winter visitor, was found to be a frequent visitor to the state. Kole wetland, Vellayani-Punchakkari paddy fields and Kattampally wetlands were the sites in Kerala with fairly regular sightings of the bird. From the records, it was found that they are here from October to April, with a maximum number of sightings in January.

Keywords: Kattampally, Kole Wetlands, wintering.





The Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus is a wetland bird distributed from East Asia (northeastern China, Japan) to Southeast Asia, mainly found in lowland farms and riverbeds (Sonobe & Robinson 1985; Nakamura & Nakamura 1995). As their diet consists mostly of small invertebrates on or under the ground, farmlands with different microhabitats with high diversity of organisms are favored for foraging (Yamazaki et al. 2001, 2003).

Grey-headed Lapwings are monogamous and breed from March to August (Takahashi 2007, 2008) in northeastern China and Japan and migrate to the northern part of Southeast Asia in the non-breeding season (Sonobe & Usui 1993; Piersma 1996, Fig 1). Later reports showed an expanded breeding range to the south primarily along the Pacific seaboard to western Japan and southern Japan (Takahashi 2007, 2008). According to Robson (2005) and Bamford et al. (2008), the Grey-headed Lapwing has two breeding populations - a sedentary population in Japan and a larger migratory population breeding in north-eastern China and wintering in southern China, Indochina, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and parts of mainland Southeast Asia. After October most of the population breeding in snowy regions head south, but some of them stay and winter in the breeding grounds and the birds that went south return to the breeding sites around late February (Takahashi 2007, 2008). The largest wintering concentrations of these birds were recorded in Bangladesh and China (Bamford et al. 2008; Li & Mundkur 2004).

The Grey-headed Lapwing is believed to be a rare / uncommon winter visitor in peninsular India (Kumar et al. 2003) with only a few published records (Kasambe et al. 2012). In India, its major wintering grounds are in the northeastern part of the country (Grimmett et al. 1999; Lainer 2004). Ali & Ripley (1983) mentioned this bird as a winter visitor, regularly seen in small flocks in West Bengal, Assam, Manipur and Bangladesh and stragglers recorded from Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and the Andaman Islands. According to Grimmett et al. (2011) in the Indian subcontinent, it is mainly distributed in northeastern India. But as per Rasmussen & Anderton (2012) they are regular winter visitors to Bihar, southern Assam hills, southwestern Bengal and Odisha, a few reaching Delhi and Bharatpur (Rajasthan) areas, and straggling to Kashmir, northern and southern Gujarat and the southern peninsula. In peninsular India it has been reported from Maharashtra (Palkar 2010), Andhra Pradesh (Pittie 2001; Conroy 2003; Sreekar & Ram 2010), in Goa (Lainer 1991) Karnataka (Subramanya 1987), Tamil Nadu (Sundar 2000; Santharam 2003; Santharam et al. 2006) and the first report for the Kerala state was in 1999 by Ravindran & Nameer (2002). Grey-headed Lapwings were believed to be rare winter visitors in Kerala, but since 1999, many reports have been recorded from various areas of Kerala. Hence the objective of the study is to summarise the available reports on the presence of the species from Kerala and to understand its wintering behavior in the state.

Materials and Methods

The data on the presence of Grey-headed Lapwings were collected from different sources such as eBird, Birdwatchers of Kerala (Facebook group) and KeralaBirder (Yahoo group) apart from published reports from Kerala. The collected data also include the sighting location, date and number of birds, which were then compiled and analyzed for understanding the wintering behavior of Grey-headed Lapwing in Kerala.



Result and Discussion

A total of 77 sightings (192 individuals) of the Grey-headed Lapwing are available from Kerala State, since its first record in 1999. The numbers of wintering Grey-headed Lapwing were found to increase over the years (Fig. 2), with the number varying from 1 to 23. The first record in January 1999 from Kole Wetlands in Thrissur-Malappuram districts was followed by sightings in 2001 and 2005 at the same site (Sashikumar et al. 2011). Later in 2007 a single bird was reported in Punchapadam in Palakkad District. In 2009 it was reported from Muderikdavu, in the Kattampally wetlands in Kannur District, Puthenkari (Puvathunkari) paddy fields in Vaikomkari division of Kuttanad wetlands in Alapuzha District, and Vellayani-Punchakkari in Thiruvananthapuram District. It was frequently recorded in Kole Wetlands, Kuttanad area and Punchakari Paddy fields in later years. The highest number of wintering Grey-headed Lapwing was recorded in Venchalipadam in Malappuram on 25 January 2016 (23 individuals, Vijesh Vallikunnu pers. comm. 2016) (Image 1) , followed by Vellayani-Punchakkari in Thiruvananthapuram (9) and Kole Wetlands (8). Among the recorded sites Kole Wetlands of Thrissur District had the highest number of sightings of the Grey-headed Lapwing (24 sightings in eight years), followed by Vellayani-Punchakkari fields (10 sightings in six years) and Kattampaly wetlands (six sightings in five years; Table 1).

The Grey-headed Lapwings were found to winter in Kerala from October to April. The number of sightings was more in January (34) and least in October and April (1). Compilation of four wintering seasons from 2012–2016 showed the highest sighting of the bird in January followed by February (Fig. 3).

In Tamil Nadu, Santharam et al. (2006) reported frequent sightings of Grey-headed Lapwings in recent years, which is thought to be an extended range in coastal Tamil Nadu. Records from Kerala suggest that as in the case of Tamil Nadu they are making Kerala also a frequent wintering zone. Most of the birds are found to be adults with pectoral bands (Image 2) contrary to the observation of Ali & Ripley (1983) where they mentioned that a large proportion of birds visiting India are young birds without pectoral bands. Even though this data fails to interpret the actual number of birds wintering in the area, it reflects the wintering pattern of the bird in Kerala.









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