White-crowned Plover (Vanellus albiceps)

White-crowned Plover (Vanellus albiceps)_4

I was confused for a while because these plovers looked a lot like the lapwings I’d seen … so I looked it up.

You’ve got your Charadriiformes, which are a bunch of birds that are mostly watery. The sub-order Charadrii are entirely watery, being wading birds. All plovers, lapwings and dotterels are in the family Charadriidae. Lapwings, in particular, are in the sub-family Vanellinae, which are distinguished from the others in Charadriidae as having crests. While all the lapwings are Vanellinae, not all Vanellinae are lapwings because in addition to lapwings, the group Vanellinae includes the red-kneed dotterel.

So it basically works like this:

Kingdom: Animalia (We’ve got cells and can move and eat things.)
Phylum: Chordata (… and a spine)
Class: Aves (… and feathers)
Subclass: Neornithes (… and we’re currently alive)
Infraclass: Neognathae (… and modern jaws.)
Superorder: Neoaves (But we’re not ducks or chickens.)
Order: Charadriiformes (We like water.)
Suborder: Charadrii (We *really* like water.)
Family: Charadriidae (We have short, thick necks. Our wings are usually pointed but sometimes not. Our bills are usually straight, but sometimes not. We usually have short tails, but sometimes not. Our hind toe may or may not exist. OK, it’s a bit of a mess.)
Subfamily: Vanellinae (We have crests.)
Common Name: Lapwing (We fly funny.)

Come and see the confusion inherent in the system.