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Northern Lapwing - BirdForum Opus

Adult in breeding plumage
Photo © by nigel pye
Cley, Norfolk, 11 May 2006
Vanellus vanellus


Photo © by G6 UXU
Clifton Marshes, Lancashire, 17 May 2017

28–31 cm (11-12¼ in) Wing span 67-72 cm (26¼-28¼ in)

  • Crest
  • Black bill
  • Pinkish-brown legs
  • Upperparts look black but has green and purplish tints
  • White underparts
  • Black throat and breast
  • Orange-chestnut undertail coverts

Female and Juvenile are similar but have shorter crests


Breeds in Europe, Turkey and northwest Iran through western Russia and Kazakhstan to southern and eastern Siberia, Mongolia and northern China. Winters from Western Europe, Eastern Atlantic islands and North Africa through the Mediterranean, Middle East and Iran across northern India to southeastern China, Korea and southern Japan. Has been recorded on the Azores, Cape Verde Islands and Eastern North America as a vagrant.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Breeds in open country, moors and farmland with short grass, bare soil or in crops, often near freshwater. Winters in muddy estuaries and marshes.


Photo © by Jeff Rankin
Draycote Water, Warwickshire, UK, November 2008

Highly gregarious forming large winter feeding flocks.


Slow direct flight with very 'flapping' wings. Aerobatic spring display flights.


Three to four eggs are laid in a ground scrape. They are monogamous during the breeding season and are very protective of their nests, dive-bombing intruders.


Their diet consists of worms, insects and other small invertebrates, including larva and adult beetles, ants, flies and wasps. They like to feed nocturnally on moonlit nights.


Fledgling chick
Photo © by G6 UXU
Clifton Marsh, Preston, Lancashire, 1 June 2018

Call: Variations on Pee, Peet and Pee-wit

In Culture

The name "lapwing" derives from the "lapping" sound its wings make, or the flapping flight. Other common names include Peewit and Green Plover


First winter plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Dist. Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, North India, 24 December 2013
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Fitter, R.S.R. (1966). Pocket Guide to British Birds. London: Collins.
  3. Peterson, RT, G Mountfort and PAD Hollom. 1993. Collins Field Guide – Birds of Britain and Europe, 5th Revised edition. London: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0002199001
  4. Grant, P.J., Svensson, L. (1998) Collins Bird Guide: the Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  5. Wiersma, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53792 on 28 March 2019).
  6. Wikipedia contributors. (2019, January 30). Northern lapwing. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:44, May 14, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Northern_lapwing&oldid=880928862
  7. BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Vanellus vanellus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/03/2019.
  8. Chandler, R. (2009). Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia: A photographic guide. Princeton.

Recommended Citation

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