Common Northern Lapwing

Vanellus vanellus

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The common northern lapwing is at home in marshland and salt marshes, as well in extensive agriculture. During the last ten years, the common northern lapwing has experienced staggering population decline throughout Europe. The rate of decline is still continuing. The black-and-white coloured lapwing is a species in the charadriidae family (also known as shorebirds) and is roughly the size of a pigeon with broad, round wings and a long prominent crest atop its crown. Its plumage has a metallic green and violet sheen. While both sexes resemble one another, the male’s crest is longer and the dark band across his breast is more uniform in colour. Common northern lapwings gather from March onwards in their breeding grounds. Here they form small colonies of around 20 pairs, often sharing the site alongside other shorebirds. They are territorial during mating. The males, for example, mark and defend their territories through courtship displays. These aerial displays are spectacular to behold and well renowned. The male will “flutter”: with loud calls, it casts itself back and forth, swoops first with wings to the side and then finally nosedives straight to the ground. The common northern lapwing builds a scrape nest, which it then insulates with foraged scraps of plant parts. The female lays a clutch of 4 beige to brown, speckled eggs. Characteristic for shorebirds, the eggs are laid in the nest crossways with the pointed tops facing towards the middle. The precocial chicks hatch after 21 to 28 days. They are already fully fledged after roughly 35 days. If the conditions are right, two broods are possible in a single breeding season. It is common for broods on arable land to fail because the cultivation of the fields invariably destroys the nests. Depending on the region, the common northern lapwing may either migrate long distances, only partially migrate or remain resident. Weather conditions notwithstanding, northern lapwings can be observed throughout the year in Germany and are unmistakable in appearance.

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