Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania Wattle-Wearing Wanderers of Eastern Africa

Introduction to the Wattled Lapwing

The Wattled Lapwing, also known as the Senegal Lapwing or the African Wattled Plover, is a striking bird species that can be found in various parts of Africa, including Tanzania. With its distinctive appearance and unique behaviors, the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania is a fascinating creature to observe and learn about. In this article, we will delve into the distribution, physical characteristics, behavior, breeding and nesting habits, conservation status, interesting facts, best places to spot, and tips for observing and photographing the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania.

Distribution and Habitat of the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania

Charting the Wattled Lapwing's Tanzanian Territory
Charting the Wattled Lapwing’s Tanzanian Territory

The Wattled Lapwing is a common resident bird species in Tanzania, particularly in the eastern parts of the country. Its range extends from the coastal regions of Tanzania, including the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, to the inland areas near lakes and rivers. This bird has also been spotted in the northern part of Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. The Wattled Lapwing prefers open grasslands, savannas, marshes, and the edges of wetlands as its primary habitats. It can also be found in agricultural fields, parks, and even near human settlements.

Physical Characteristics and Behavior of the Wattled Lapwing

The Wattled Lapwing is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 30 centimeters in length and weighing around 200 grams. It has a distinctive appearance with its black and white plumage. The head, neck, and upper breast of the Wattled Lapwing are black, while the lower breast, belly, and undertail coverts are white. One of the most striking features of this bird is the fleshy, bright yellow wattles that hang from the sides of its face. These wattles are used for communication and courtship displays.

The Wattled Lapwing is known for its loud and distinctive call, which sounds like “pee-wee.” This call is often heard during the breeding season, as the male and female engage in duets to establish their territory and attract a mate. This bird is also known for its unique behavior of pretending to be injured when its nest or young are threatened. It will feign a broken wing and lead the intruder away from the nest, only to fly away once the threat has been diverted.

Breeding and Nesting Habits of the Wattled Lapwing

Quirky Habits of Tanzania's Crowned Jewels
Quirky Habits of Tanzania’s Crowned Jewels

The Wattled Lapwing is a monogamous bird species, meaning that it forms long-term pair bonds. Breeding season for the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania typically occurs from September to April, coinciding with the rainy season. During courtship, the male and female engage in elaborate displays, including aerial acrobatics and vocalizations. Once a pair bond is formed, the birds will build a shallow scrape nest on the ground, often in open areas with minimal vegetation.

The female Wattled Lapwing usually lays a clutch of two to three eggs, which are creamy-white in color with dark speckles. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs, which hatch after about 25 to 30 days. The chicks are precocial, meaning that they are able to leave the nest and feed themselves shortly after hatching. The parents will continue to protect and care for the young until they are able to fend for themselves.

Conservation Status of the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania

The Wattled Lapwing is currently listed as a species of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This means that it is not considered to be facing a high risk of extinction. However, like many bird species, the Wattled Lapwing faces threats such as habitat loss, disturbance from human activities, and predation. Efforts are being made to protect the habitats of the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania, including the establishment of protected areas and conservation programs.

Interesting Facts about the Wattled Lapwing

  • The wattles of the Wattled Lapwing are not present at birth. They start to develop when the bird is about one year old and reach their full size at around two years of age.
  • The Wattled Lapwing is known for its aggressive defense of its nest and young. It will dive-bomb and attack intruders, including humans, to protect its offspring.
  • This bird species has a wide range of vocalizations, including various calls and alarm notes. It can even mimic the calls of other bird species.

Best Places to Spot the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania

If you’re interested in spotting the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania, there are several excellent locations to visit. The Saadani National Park, located on the coast of Tanzania, is known for its diverse birdlife and is a great place to see the Wattled Lapwing in its natural habitat. The Ruaha National Park, in the central part of the country, is another hotspot for birdwatching and offers opportunities to spot the Wattled Lapwing along with many other bird species. The Mikumi National Park, located close to Dar es Salaam, is also a recommended destination for bird enthusiasts.

Tips for Observing and Photographing the Wattled Lapwing

Capturing the Dynamic Movements of Tanzania's Wattled Aerialists
Capturing the Dynamic Movements of Tanzania’s Wattled Aerialists

To increase your chances of observing and photographing the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania, it is important to be patient and observant. These birds can often be found near water bodies, so be sure to visit areas such as lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to spot them, as they are more active during these periods. When approaching a Wattled Lapwing, move slowly and avoid sudden movements to avoid startling them. Using a telephoto lens can help capture detailed photographs without getting too close and disturbing the birds.

Other Bird Species that can be Found Alongside the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania

Tanzania is home to a rich diversity of bird species, and while on your quest to spot the Wattled Lapwing, you may encounter many other fascinating birds. Some of the bird species that can often be found alongside the Wattled Lapwing in Tanzania include the Lilac-breasted Roller, the Grey Crowned Crane, the African Fish Eagle, the Secretary Bird, and the Marabou Stork. Each of these species has its own unique characteristics and behaviors, adding to the overall birdwatching experience in Tanzania.


The Wattled Lapwing is a captivating bird species that adds vibrancy to the birdlife of Tanzania. With its striking appearance, unique behaviors, and diverse habitats, it is a bird worth seeking out during your visit to Tanzania. From its distinctive wattles to its acrobatic courtship displays, the Wattled Lapwing never fails to impress. By exploring the best places to spot this bird, following tips for observation and photography, and appreciating the other bird species that share its habitat, you can have a truly rewarding birdwatching experience in Tanzania.

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