Vanellus vanellus Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Northern lapwing, Peewit, Green plover [En], Vanneau huppé [Fr], Kievit [Nl], Kiebitz [De], Pavoncella [It], Avefría europea [Es], Καλημάνα [Gr], Bayağı kız kuşu [Tu]
IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
Parc du Marquenterre, SOMME ● France
Description: The northern lapwing is a 28–33 cm long bird with a 67–87 cm wingspan and a body mass of 128–330 g. It has rounded wings and a crest. It is also the shortest-legged of the lapwings. It is mainly black and white, but the back is tinted green. The male has a long crest and a black crown, throat and breast contrasting with an otherwise white face. Females and young birds have shorter crests, and have less strongly marked heads, but plumages are otherwise quite similar.
The name lapwing has been variously attributed to the "lapping" sound its wings make in flight, from the irregular progress in flight due to its large wings or from its habit of drawing potential predators away from its nest by trailing a wing as if broken.
Biology: It feeds primarily on insects and other small invertebrates. This species often feeds in mixed flocks with golden plovers and black-headed gulls, the latter often robbing the two plovers, but providing a degree of protection against predators.
3–4 eggs are laid in a ground scrape. The nest and young are defended noisily and aggressively against all intruders, up to and including horses and cattle.
In winter, it forms huge flocks on open land, particularly arable land and mud-flats.
Habitat: It is a wader which breeds on cultivated land and other short vegetation habitats.
Distribution: The species breeds from Europe, Turkey and north-west Iran through western Russia and Kazakhstan to southern and eastern Siberia, Mongolia and northern China. It winters from western Europe, the east Atlantic islands and North Africa through the Mediterranean, Middle East and Iran across northern India to south-east China, the Korean peninsula and southern Japan.
It migrates mainly by day, often in large flocks. Lowland breeders in westernmost areas of Europe are resident.
Threats & Protection: The northern lapwing is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends. Recent data are suggesting the European population is decreasing by 30-49% in 27 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
The European population of Lapwing is now considered Vulnerable. Although good data on the number of Lapwings hunted in the EU are lacking, the available estimates of the bag size suggest that the annual harvest amounts to less than 9% of the autumn population together with up to 6,700 eggs in the region of Friesland, Netherlands (less than 1% of the national egg production).
This species suffered past declines as a result of land-use intensification, wetland drainage and egg collecting. Land-use intensification remains a problem: today it is threatened by reduced breeding productivity as a result of intensifying and changing agricultural practices, especially the improvement of grasslands (e.g. by drainage, application of inorganic fertilizers and reseeding) and loss of field margins and semi-natural habitat. Important migratory stop-over habitats for this species on the Baltic Sea coastline are threatened by petroleum pollution, wetland drainage for irrigation, land abandonment and changing land management practices leading to scrub overgrowth. Clutch destruction may also occur during spring cultivation (using machinery) on arable fields. The species is susceptible to avian botulism so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease, and may suffer from nest predation by introduced mammals (e.g. European Hedgehog Erinaceus europeaus) on some islands. The species is hunted for commercial use (to be sold as food) and for recreational purposes in Iran, and is hunted in France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain.
Wikipedia, Northern lapwing
BirdLife International, 2016. Species factsheet: Vanellus vanellus.
European Union management plan, 2009-2011. Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus.