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Northern lapwing

Vanellus vanellus

Photo by Agustín Povedano (Flickr)

Common name:
northern lapwing (en); abibe-comum (pt); vanneau huppé (fr); avefría europea (es); kiebitz (de)

Order Charadriiformes
Family Charadriidae

This species breeds throughout most of Europe and into central Asia as far east as southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northern China. They migrate south to winter around the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, northern India, southern China, southern Japan and Thailand.

These birds are 28-31 cm long and have a wingspan of 65-80 cm. They weigh 140-320 g.

The northern lapwings breeds on natural wet grasslands, agricultural meadows, grassy moorland, swampy heathland and arable land. Outside the breeding season they also use agricultural land such as pastures, irrigated land and rice fields, as well as lake shores, river banks, fresh and saltwater marshes, estuaries and mudflats.

They feed mainly on earthworms, adult and larval insects and other soil invertebrates. Occasionaly, they also take seeds and other plant material.

Northern lapwing breed in June-March. They are mostly monogamous and can pair for life, but there are also cases of polygamy where one male mates with 2 females. The nest is a scrape on the ground, lined with grasses, where the female lays 3-4 light brown or grey eggs with reddish-brown spots. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 21-28 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are immediately able to feed themselves, but the parents protect them from predators and brood in case of rain or cold weather. They fledge 35-40 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 5,2-10 million individual. The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends. In Europe, the population has declined by over 50% in the last 3 decades, mainly due to agricultural intensification.

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