Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Usurpation of a Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus nest by African Wattled Lapwings V. senegalensis

Nicholas P.C. Horrocks


I report an instance of usurpation of a Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus nest by a pair of African Wattled Lapwings Vanellus senegalensis. The nest, which originally contained a single Crowned Lapwing egg, eventually contained an additional three Wattled Lapwing eggs, before it was predated. Although parents of both species were observed in the vicinity of the nest, video monitoring showed that the Wattled Lapwings incubated all four eggs. Detection of embryonic heart rate suggested that all the eggs were probably viable up until the nest was destroyed. Nest usurpation in shorebirds is rare, and given the easily accommodated nest requirements and minimal costs of nest construction in these species, is difficult to explain. I speculate that the occurrence described here may represent a case of mistaken identity by the female Wattled Lapwing when choosing a nest scrape, since there seems to have been little benefit to the usurping species of taking over an already occupied nest.

Keywords: African Wattled Lapwing, Crowned Lapwing, interspecific competition, nest usurpation

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