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This lapwing is a 28-31cm long bird with a 67-72cm wingspan, It has rounded wings and a crest. It is the shortest-legged of the lapwings. It is mainly black and white, but the back is tinted green. Females and young birds have narrower wings, and have less strongly-marked heads, but plumages are otherwise quite similar.
The Northern Lapwing is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
Common and widespread over much of the region. Breeds on Sandoy in the Faroes and in most of the British Isles, and from France east to the Urals. In the north found over all of Scandinavia (except the far north) and in Russia north to the White Sea. In the south breeds in central and south-central Spain, patchily in southern France, north Italy, Greece and central Turkey.
Resident in western Europe and in Turkey but summer visitor to remainder of breeding range. In winter found throughout France and Iberia, and on most Mediterranean coasts, in Turkey, Iraq and the Nile Valley.
Has been recorded on the Azores and Cape Verde Islands as a vagrant.
Breeds in open country with short grass, bare soil or in crops, often near freshwater. Today over much of Europe most suitable habitat is now on farmland. Similar habitats in winter.
3‚Äď4 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. The name lapwing derives from the "lapping" sound its wings make, or the flapping flight, while peewit describes the bird's shrill call. This is a vocal bird in the breeding season, with constant calling as the crazed tumbling display flight is performed by the male.
Food is mainly 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.
Like the Golden Plovers, this species prefers to feed nocturnally when there are moonlit nights.
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