A group of New Zealand dotterels standing in water

Plovers and lapwings

Plovers and lapwings are familar, often colourful, shorebirds. They hunt by sight using a run-and-pause technique before snatching up insects and worms with their short pointed bills. This is quite a different technique to long-billed waders which hunt by probing. There are around 70 species in the family, including the larger lapwings and the smaller plovers and dotterels. They have a worldwide distribution, except in the Antarctic, preferring open countryside such as wetlands, shorelines and farmland.

Scientific name: Charadriidae

Rank: Family


Map showing the distribution of the Plovers and lapwings taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

Explore this group


The following habitats are found across the Plovers and lapwings distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Birds
  5. Shorebirds
  6. Plovers and lapwings