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Impurest's guide to Animals #4 – Northern Lapwing

Well it’s time for Issue #3 of Impurest Cheese’s Guide to Animals. Last week the voracious Salmon Shark was in the spotlight. This time we have a different animal recommended by @cbishop in the spotlight. Hope you guys enjoy.


Issue #4 – Northern Lapwing


Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Aves

Order – Charadriiformes

Family – Charadriidae

Genus – Vanellus

Species – vanellus

Related Species – The family Charadriidae contains a variety of small to medium sized waders including; Plovers, Lapwings and Dotterels (1)


Yellow = Breeding Range, Blue = Overwintering Range, Green = Resident Population [2]
Yellow = Breeding Range, Blue = Overwintering Range, Green = Resident Population [2]

The Peewit calls at Midnight

The Northern Lapwing is a medium sized wader with an average wingspan of 70cm and a body length of 30cm. It is easy to identify even to the untrained eye due to its green and white plumage, crested head and distinctive cry of ‘pee-wit’. These features lend themselves to their regional names; the Green Plover and Peewit. Lapwings are often associated with mud flats and arable land and use both habitats for feeding and breeding. Unusually for a bird it does most of it’s foraging at night and specialises in eating worms and other soft bodied invertebrates. (2)

The Northern Lapwing is both a migratory and resident species with some populations migrating from over wintering spots in Southern Europe up into the High Arctic for breeding while others (such as the British population) will stay in the same area all year round. Breeding usually takes place in Late March on the ground with up to five eggs laid on the ground. Because of the danger of predation Lapwings often nest in close proximity to more aggressive birds such as Black Headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria) both of which are fiercely territorial in defence of their eggs. (3)


Northern Lapwings are protected by Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) due to the lack of suitable breeding habitat (4). In addition their eggs are sometimes stolen due to their colouration despite the aggressive nature of their protectors and neighbours. The species has also been tentatively put on the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species


Five Fun Lapwing Facts

The name Lapwing has nothing to do with Lapland. It comes from the sound made by the wings when flying.

Although they nest with other birds for defence Lapwings are capable of protecting their own young. There are eyewitness reports of Lapwings attacking animals as large as cows and horses that get to close to their nests as well as inanimate objects such as vehicles.

And if that aggressive stance doesn't work the adults sometimes feign injury and put their own lives on the line to lure predators away from their nests.

Lapwings are hard to taxonomically classify especially those within the genus Vanellus. Of the 25 species within the genus only one; the Northern Lapwing, is confirmed as being a member with the others classified in a range of alternate genus as well.

In Ovid’s Metamorphosis with King Terses being transformed into either a Lapwing (in some tellings a Hoopoe) for his cruelty to his sister-in-law, who herself is transformed into a Nightingale, along with his wife, who is transformed into a Swallow, for dishonouring the gods



(1) - Goodman, Steven M (1997). "Description of a new species of subfossil lapwing (Aves: Charadriiformes, Charadriidae, Vanellus) from Madagascar". Bulletin Museum Nattional d'Histoire Naturelle 18: 607–614

(2) -

(3) – Illustrated Guide to Managing Grassland for Lapwings, Natural England Technical Information Note TIN090 - 2011

(4) -

Picture References

[1] -,112,990,616)

[2] -

[3] –

[4] -

Hope you guys enjoyed the insight into this ‘likely to drive you loony’ wader. Drop me a comment with an animal you want explored in the next issue.