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Lapwing [UPDATED]

Lapwings (subfamily Vanellinae) are any of various ground-nesting birds (family Charadriidae) akin to plovers and dotterels. They range from 10 to 16 inches (25 to 41 cm) in length, and are noted for their slow, irregular wingbeats in flight and a shrill, wailing cry. A group of lapwings is called a "deceit".[1]



The traditional terms "plover", "lapwing", and "dotterel" do not correspond exactly to current taxonomic models; thus, several of the Vanellinae are often called plovers, and one a dotterel, while a few of the "true" plovers (subfamily Charadriinae) are known colloquially as lapwings. In general, a lapwing can be thought of as a larger plover.

In Europe's Anglophone countries, lapwing refers specifically to the northern lapwing, the only member of this group to occur in most of the continent and thus the first bird to go by the English name lapwing (also known as peewit or pyewipe).

While authorities generally agree that there about 25 species of Vanellinae, classifications within the subfamily remain confused. Some workers[who?] have gone so far as to group all the "true" lapwings (except the red-kneed dotterel) into the single genus Vanellus. Current consensus favors a more moderate position, but it is unclear which genera to split. The Handbook of Birds of the World provisionally lumps all Vanellinae into Vanellus except the red-kneed dotterel, which is in the monotypic Erythrogonys. Its plesiomorphic habitus resembles that of plovers, but details like the missing hallux (hind toe) are like those of lapwings: it is still not entirely clear whether it is better considered the most basal plover or lapwing.[2]

The fossil record of the Vanellinae is scant and mostly recent in origin; no Neogene lapwings seem to be known. On the other hand, it appears as if early in their evolutionary history the plovers, lapwings and dotterels must have been almost one and the same, and they are hard to distinguish osteologically even today. Thus, since the Red-kneed Dotterel is so distinct that it might arguably be considered a monotypic subfamily, reliably dating its divergence from a selection of true lapwings and plovers would also give a good idea of charadriid wader evolution altogether.

Apart from the prehistoric Vanellus, the extinct lapwing genus Viator has been described from fossils. Its remains were found in the tar pits of Talara in Peru and it lived in the Late Pleistocene. Little is known of this rather large lapwing; it may actually belong in Vanellus.[7]

The northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), also known as the peewit or pewit, tuit or tew-it, green plover, or (in Ireland and Britain) pyewipe or just lapwing, is a bird in the lapwing subfamily. It is common through temperate Eurosiberia.

The northern lapwing was formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Tringa vanellus.[5] The species is now placed with the other lapwings in the genus Vanellus that was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760.[6][7] The scientific name Vanellus is Medieval Latin for the northern lapwing and derives from vannus, a winnowing fan.[8] The species is monotypic: no subspecies are recognised.[7]

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 (the Oxford English Dictionary derives this from an Old English word meaning "to totter"),[9] or from its habit of drawing potential predators away from its nest by trailing a wing as if broken. The names peewit, pewit, tuit or tew-it are onomatopoeic and refer to the bird's characteristic call.[10]

National surveys of England and Wales have shown a population decline between 1987 and 1998, and since 2009 the northern lapwing has had red list conservation status in the United Kingdom.[12] The numbers of this species have been adversely affected by intensive agricultural techniques. In the lowlands this includes the loss of rough grassland, conversion to arable or improved grassland, loss of mixed farms, and switch from spring- to autumn-sown crops. In the uplands, the losses may have been due to increases in grazing density. Natural England gives grant aid to help restore lapwing habitat within its Environmental Stewardship Scheme. The organisation suggests an option within this scheme called 'Fallow plots for ground-nesting birds'. Uncropped plots at least 2 ha (4.9 acres) in size provide nesting habitat and are located in suitable arable fields, which provide additional foraging habitat. Locating the plots within 2 km (1.2 mi) of extensively grazed grassland will provide additional foraging habitat. The plots are cultivated in the spring to produce a rough fallow, which is retained without the input of fertiliser or pesticides.[13] In addition to agricultural intensification and land-use change, predation of nests and chicks contributes to wader declines, including of lapwing. By radio-tagging lapwing chicks, and using automatic radio tracking systems, the timing of chick predation can be revealed, which provides additional insights in to the importance of different predators. Lapwing chicks are predated both in the day and at night, with mammalian predators having the greatest impact.[14]

In Armenia, the population decline and loss of breeding habitats was also documented; the threats are thought to be intensification of land use and hunting, but further investigations for threat clarification are required.[15] In the Middle East, the northern lapwing is threatened by overhunting as it is shot in large quantities along its winter migration routes. Several photos surfacing from the region show tens of Northern lapwings, alongside other migratory birds including the threatened European turtle dove and European golden-plover killed in unsustainable and unnecessary numbers.[16]

The bird referred to in English translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses, book 6, as lapwing[27] is probably the northern lapwing. Tereus is turned into an epops (6.674); Ovid presumably had the hoopoe in mind, whose crest indicates his royal status and whose long, sharp beak is a symbol of his violent nature.

Lapwings are found on farmland throughout the UK particularly in lowland areas of northern England, the Borders and eastern Scotland. In the breeding season prefer spring sown cereals, root crops, permanent unimproved pasture, meadows and fallow fields. They can also be found on wetlands with short vegetation. In winter they flock on pasture and ploughed fields. The highest known winter concentrations of lapwings are found at the Somerset Levels, Humber and Ribble estuaries, Breydon Water/Berney Marshes, the Wash and Morecambe Bay.

Spur-winged lapwings reside primarily in the sub-Saharan belt of central Africa but are also native to some Middle Eastern and east Mediterranean countries, including Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. They frequent a variety of habitats, including dry ground near bodies of fresh or saltwater, marshes, burnt grasslands, agricultural fields, saltpans, mudflats, dunes, and beaches.

Spur-winged lapwings are wading birds that stand about one foot tall and have striking brown, black, and white plumage and bright red eyes. Out of breeding season, they typically gather in small flocks of up to 15 birds, although sometimes as many as 200 birds have been seen together. They are gregarious birds that use many different vocalizations to attract mates, defend territory, and signal threats.

Spur-winged lapwings are active day and night, depending on the concentration of prey and predators in a given area. They are ambush predators themselves and are well-adapted to the task. They feed primarily on insects, insect larvae, and other invertebrates that they find in dirt, mud, and shallow water. They may also eat small lizards, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and occasionally seeds. They have long, thin legs fit for wading and running on land or in shallow waters. They have relatively large eyes, and vision is the primary sense upon which they rely for hunting. They have narrow beaks that they use to spear their prey.

Male spur-winged lapwings court females by dancing and calling. Pairs often stay together for life. They may breed more than once per year, with the first nesting usually occurring in late spring or early summer. Their nests consist of small holes dug in the ground, usually in sparsely vegetated areas near water. Females lay clutches of 2-4 eggs that will hatch after about three weeks. The male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs and jointly feed the chicks once they hatch out. Spur-winged lapwings are territorial birds that defend their nests aggressively from other species. If a pair nests again in the same season, the male will continue to tend the older chicks from the first clutch while the female turns her attention to the new clutch. Baby spur-winged lapwings become fully independent at about 8 weeks of age but may stay in the area near their parents until the next breeding season.

The blacksmith lapwing or blacksmith plover (Vanellus armatus ) is a lapwing species that occurs commonly from Kenya through central Tanzania to southern and southwestern Africa. The vernacular name derives from the repeated metallic 'tink, tink, tink' alarm call, which suggests a blacksmith's hammer striking an anvil.

Blacksmith lapwings are colorful wading birds commonly found in Africa. They are very boldly patterned in black, grey and white, possibly warning colors to predators. The bare parts are black. Males and females are generally alike but females average larger and heavier.

Blacksmith lapwings occur from Kenya through central Tanzania to southern and southwestern Africa. They inhabit wetlands of all sizes and even very small damp areas caused by a spilling water trough can attract them. These birds live close to lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, estuaries and lagoons, in dry and marshy grassland, and floodplains. They try to avoid mountains of any type. 041b061a72


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