This striking lapwing is best identified by its long yellow wattles, white belly, and gray head split down the center by a broad white crown stripe. In flight, the distinctive wings are almost entirely white with black tips. It prefers breeding and foraging on large permanent rivers with extensive sand banks but will also wander to smaller streams and pans. It utters a loud “kriiip” call when alarmed or defending its territory. The similar Wattled Lapwing differs from White-headed Lapwing by having a dark belly and red-based wattles.