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Southern Lapwing
Vanellus chilensis

Southern Lapwing
Tero Común
Vanellus chilensis
Length: 360mm. Sexes alike. Bill violaceous red on basal half and black on apical half; eyelids violaceous red; iris red; forehead, upper part of lores extending towards the chin; throat and band on upper neck black; this entire area is edged with white; crown, nape, sides of head and neck ash grey slightly bluish; on the nape there is a small blackish crest; upper back and greater scapulars pale olivaceous brown; lesser scapulars green with bright copper red highlights; lower back grey; uppertail coverts white; rectrices white with a wide black subterminal band and thin terminal white band; lesser wing coverts blackish with green, red and purple metallic sheen; greater and median proximal coverts grey; distal coverts white; primaries and secondaries black; underwing coverts and axillaries white; on bend of wing red spur; breast black; flanks, abdomen, thighs and undertail coverts pure white. Legs violaceous red on bare portion of tibia; joint, upper portion of tarsus, remainder of tarsus and toes blackish brown.
Sexes alike. Juveniles: similar to adults but with duller plumage and upper parts are speckled with whitish ochraceous. Habitat and behaviour: it frequents all types of open grassland, although it prefers short wet grassland. Also grassy steppe in arid or semiarid habitat. It feeds on earthworms, worms and other invertebrates. To seize worms it taps the ground with one leg and listens carefully, then it lunges and captures its prey. It is found in pairs or small groups, occasionally vast groups. Highly territorial, in their feeding and roosting grounds Southern Lapwings act as natural sentinels, flying about and uttering loud cries insistently when disturbed, thus drawing the attention of other birds, animals and people. The nest is built on the ground with twigs and grass. Up to four olive brown spotted and blotched eggs are laid. Both parents in charge of incubation and rearing of chicks. During the laying and rearing period if any intruder approaches the nest, it will dive on them and utter loud shrieks. Notorious for their defence of the nest, they call attention to themselves by pretending to be incubating an egg far from the actual nesting site. Chicks are born with a very mimetic plumage which blends well into their setting, and upon impending danger they crouch and remain motionless, easily overlooked.
Range: widely distributed, it can be found throughout Argentina, where it is represented by three races, all of them in Patagonia. In Neuquén, the monotypical race, Vanellus chilensis chilensis; from the centre and north of Río Negro towards the east and northeast of Chubut to the lower valley of the Chubut River, Vanellus chilensis lampronotus; centre and northwest of Río Negro, part of Neuquén to the south reaching Tierra del Fuego, Vanellus chilensis fretensis; there is some overlapping of ranges, especially during migration. In Chile the race Vanellus chilensis chilensis occurs from Atacama to Chiloé; the race Vanellus chilensis fretensis is common from Aysén up to the Chilean Tierra del Fuego.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of photographs is forbidden without permission from the authors.
Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña