© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Vanellus vanellus

  • Name also: Northern Lapwing
  • Family: Plovers – Charadriidae
  • Appearance: A largish pigeon-sized wader in the plover family. Has a prominent crest. Flight erratic. Birds in flight appear black and white.
  • Size: Length 28–31 cm, wingspan 67–72 cm, weight 170–230 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression scraped out on the ground, usually in a field or by a ditch. Very little nest material used.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in April, incubated by both parents for 20–29 days. Fledglings leave nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food for themselves. They learn to fly within 33–35 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in farmland and on open bogs almost throughout Finland, though there are gaps in the species distribution in the north. Finnish breeding population estimated at 70,000–120,000 pairs.
  • Migration: By day. Birds flies south as early as May, though southbound migration peaks in July and some birds may not leave until October or November. Lapwings can tolerate cold conditions, and are among the first migrants to return to Finland, in March, after wintering in Western and Southern Europe.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: A cat-like mewing call “pee-wit”.
  • Endangerment: Least concern, globally Near threatened.

Lapwings are pigeon-sized plovers, seen in farmland and wetlands. From a distance they look black and white. They have broad, rounded wings and a thin crest pointing up from the back of the crown. In good light their dark upper parts have a beautiful greenish and violet metallic sheen. They have black and white heads, broad black bibs, white flanks and bellies, and pale rust-coloured vents. Young birds have shorter crests and the feathers on their backs and wing coverts have yellowish edges that may give their upper parts a scaly appearance. Lapwings have brownish red legs, black beaks and dark brown irises.

Other species from the same family

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