South America is known for many things, but there is though one group of birds that would be well down the list of 'special things' about South America as far as most people are concerned, but not for your average plover lover; like me.
There exists, amazingly, nine endemic species of plover to be found in the region, three lapwings, three plovers, two dotterels and the unique Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Phegornis mitchellii. Here we will have a brief look at the Lapwings.
The Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis is a classic lapwing species and shows many features resembling the Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus; it possesses the crest at the back of the head, a glossy/oily sheen to the closed wing at the 'shoulder', but, unlike the northern counterpart, it has ferocious looking spurs at the carpel joint of the wing. Also at odds with the Northern Lapwing it is quite at home living in close proximity to people, even dwelling within cities in open spaces such as parks and undeveloped plots.
|Southern Lapwing: October 2013, Brazil|
The Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens looks, in some ways, superficially similar to the Southern Lapwing and it too sports a spur on the wing, but it has neither crest nor hind toe. This species breeds only at the highest levels of the Andean mountain range above 3000 metres in altitude although they have been recorded occasionally at lower levels in the Austral winter.
|Andean Lapwing: June 2013, Peru.|
The last lapwing species the Pied Lapwing Vanellus cayanus, is like no other, perhaps most closely resembling the Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus of Australia. It is not universally placed in the genus Vanellus instead sometimes being given a genus of its own, Hoploxypterus, which means 'sharp-weapon-wing' referring to the spur, a characteristic it shares with many other lapwing species.
|Pied Lapwing: June 2013, Brazil.|
Part two coming next with the plovers.