What is the National Bird of Uruguay?

national bird uruguay

Southern Lapwing – Uruguay national bird

The Uruguay’s national bird is the Southern Lapwing, which has been seen mostly in the northernmost regions of the country. Many Uruguayans believe that this bird represents their country’s natural wealth and also makes for a very beautiful creature.

The Uruguay’s animal Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) is a member of the lapwing family of birds, and is the largest member of that family. It breeds in southern South America, and migrates northwards to spend the northern summer in the Pantanal of Brazil and Paraguay.

Lapwing Scientific Classification

Scientific Name: Vanellus chilensis
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Species: V. chilensis

Physical Description

The Southern Lapwing is a large, striking, ground-living bird with long legs and a long neck. It has brown upper parts with black spots on the back, scapulars and tail feathers. The breast is white with black spots on the flanks. The face and throat are black with white bars above and below the eye. The belly is white except for a black stripe on each side of the breast. There are white stripes under the tail feathers when they are spread out to dry after bathing in water or rain.

Facts about Southern Lapwing

  • Southern Lapwing is the official and famous bird in Uruguay.
  • Its scientific name is Vanellus chilensis
  • The  lapwing eats insects, seeds, berries, leaves and roots; occasionally it takes frogs, crabs or small molluscs from shallow water.
  • It nests on bare ground among tall grasses and rushes close to water which may be stagnant or flowing gently over gravel beds; two to five eggs are laid from mid-April onwards; incubation lasts about 21 days; chicks fledge at about 35 days old.
  • The Southern Lapwing is a large bird, 32-36 inches (80-90 cm) long with an 88-96 inch (230-245 cm) wingspan. It has a bold white wing stripe contrasting with its dark brown body plumage
  • These birds are excellent runners — when chased by predators such as foxes or dogs they can reach speeds of up to 45 mph (72 km/h)!
  • It has a lifespan of up to 10 years in captivity and 6 years in the wild.
  • The southern lapwing is a small wading bird in the plover family. It is also known as the spur-winged plover, or just lapwing.
  • It can be found in the grasslands and open woodlands of eastern Australia from northern Queensland to southern Victoria, including Tasmania and Uruguay.

Why is Southern Lapwing the national bird of Uruguay?

There are many reasons to choose Southern Lapwing the Uruguay’s national bird, few of them are as follows:

  • The southern lapwing is a common bird that can be found in many parts of the world
  • The southern lapwing is a resident throughout the year, and thus an emblematic bird for Uruguay’s natural life.
  • It is an important game bird, as well as being appreciated for its decorative value.
  • It is an emblematic bird for Uruguay’s hunters’ associations and conservation groups for its role in controlling agricultural pests (for example locusts and grasshoppers).
  • In Uruguay, it is considered a symbol of freedom and independence, as well as peace and brotherhood among peoples.