Lapwing birds

In the woeful cry of the birds, the Slavs heard the crying of inconsolable mothers and widows, which is why the lapwing was especially honored and protected. It was forbidden not only to kill them, but also to destroy nests.

Description of lapwing

Vanellus (lapwing) is a genus of birds that is part of the charadriiformes family and consists of more than two dozen species living in almost the entire globe. In the family of Charadriiformes, lapwings are distinguished by their size and loud voice.


The most recognizable in the genus of lapwing is Vanellus vanellus (lapwing), known in our country under the second name Pigalitsa. Residents of European countries call it in their own way: for Belarusians, he is a skater, for Ukrainians - a piggy or kiba, for Germans - kiebitz (kibits), and for the British - peewit (beer).

This is a rather large sandpiper (comparable to a pigeon or a jackdaw), which has a noticeable detail on the back of its head - a long narrow tuft of black feathers. The pigfish grows up to 30 cm with a weight of 130-330 g and a wingspan of 0.85 m. In flight, the square shape of the wide wings becomes noticeable.

The lapwing is black above, with a violet and bronze-green tint, white from the bottom, right down to the black "shirt-front" on the goiter and chest, and the under tail is pale rusty. By winter, the lower part of the plumage whitens completely. Beak and eyes of a bird are black, limbs are pink.

It is interesting! The soldier lapwing is slightly larger than the cigar (weighs 450 g with a length of 35 cm) and differs from it in color - the upper part of the plumage is painted dark olive, the lower - white. The bird does not have a characteristic crest, and the beak and part of the head to the eye are bright yellow.

The gray lapwing has a brownish upper plumage and a gray head, slightly white below and slightly black along the edges of the tail, on the chest and on the tip of the beak. The inexpressive general background is diluted with the yellow color of the limbs, beak and stroke around the eyes.

The steppe pigfish (gyrfalcon) is painted in restrained beige tones, complemented by black on the beak, over the head, on the tail and edge of the wings. The Spur lapwing does not grow more than 27 cm and is close in color to the pigfish, although it cannot boast of its perky crest, but it has a wide black tie that goes down from the beak to the center of the chest.

One of the most expressive in the family is a decorated lapwing, whose light brown top (with a greenish-metallic sheen) is combined with a black crown, black feathers of the chest / front of the face and black edges of white tail feathers. The bird has bright yellow long legs and thick crimson stripes extending from the base to the beak to the eyes.

Character and lifestyle

Lapwings are classified as hemophiles, that is, to those animals for which anthropogenic activity is exclusively beneficial. As a rule, they receive certain advantages from transformations of the natural environment, and therefore they are not afraid to follow a person.

Lapwings calmly relate to the close presence of people and willingly inhabit agricultural land, building nests in irrigated fields and meadows, where intensive daily work is observed.

If someone approaches his home, the lapwing takes off (trying to dive at a person) and screams loudly, but does not drop the nest.

It is interesting! Lapwing live in autonomous pairs or in small scattered colonies, where each bird couple owns its own plot. Not all lapwings lead a daily lifestyle, for example, decorated lapwing hosts at night.

Like other waders, a lapwing is very mobile and loud. The famous “weeping” of a lapwing is nothing but an alarm with which he tries to drive out intruders who accidentally or intentionally approached a nest with frightened chicks.

Lapwing has a different way of flying than all bogs and meadow birds: the lapwing does not know how to soar, it always flaps its wings. By the way, they are long and blunt at the ends in lapwings, while in most waders they are pointed. When flapping, the wings look like towels: if the lapwing changes its trajectory sharply, it starts to swing up and down and left and right, as if it were somersaulting. Due to the vibration of the plumage, “cosmic” sounds appear on the wings, clearly audible at the evening current.

How many lapwing live

Banding of lapwings showed that in the wild they often live to be 19 years old.

It is interesting! The name “lapwing” (originally “kibitts”) was received by the Russian pigman thanks to German linguists, whom Catherine II entrusted the formation of the vocabulary of the Russian language.

The domestic ear recognized in an alarming bird cry the question “Whose demons are you?”, Very reminiscent of the modern name of the genus - lapwing. It seemed to our people that the birds were addressing this phrase to foreign gourmets who were used to collecting bird eggs in the spring.

In Germany, lapwing eggs were considered a delicacy and served exclusively by the nobility, unlike chicken eggs intended for burghers. It is known that Otto von Bismarck sent 101 chibis eggs from Yeever (Lower Saxony) for every birthday. Once the chancellor thanked the townspeople by handing them a silver beer glass with a lid made in the shape of a lapwing's head.

Sexual dimorphism

Sexual characteristics in most lapwings are not very pronounced. So, the female pigfish have not as long as the males, crest and less pronounced metallic luster of feathers. In some species, for example, in the gray lapwing, males are slightly larger than females.

Types of Lapwing

Currently, the genus Vanellus (lapwing) has 24 species:

  • Andean Pigalitsa - Vanellus resplendens;
  • white-headed piglet - Vanellus albiceps;
  • white-tailed piglet - Vanellus leucurus;
  • crowned lapwing - Vanellus coronatus;
  • long-toed lapwing - Vanellus crassirostris;
  • cayenne piglet - Vanellus chilensis;
  • red-breasted lapwing - Vanellus superciliosus;
  • cayenne plover - Vanellus cayanus;
  • shrimp - Vanellus gregarius;
  • Malabar Pigalitsa - Vanellus malabaricus;
  • variegated lapwing - Vanellus melanocephalus;
  • blacksmith pig - Vanellus armatus;
  • gray lapwing - Vanellus cinereus;
  • Soldier Lapwing - Vanellus miles;
  • Senegalese pigfish - Vanellus senegallus;
  • funeral lapwing - Vanellus lugubris;
  • decorated lapwing - Vanellus indicus;
  • black-bellied lapwing - Vanellus tricolor;
  • black-winged piglet - Vanellus melanopterus;
  • black-crested lapwing - Vanellus tectus;
  • lapwing - Vanellus vanellus;
  • Spur lapwing - Vanellus spinosus;
  • Vanellus macropterus and Vanellus duvaucelii.

Some species of lapwing are divided into subspecies.

Habitat, habitat

Lapwings are distributed throughout the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean (south of the Arctic Circle). In some parts of the range, it is a completely settled bird, but in Russia (and not only here) - migratory. For the winter, the “Russian” lapwing flies to the Mediterranean Sea, to India and Asia Minor.

The gyrfalcon lives in vast meadows of Kazakhstan and Russia, going to winter in Israel, Sudan, Ethiopia, in the north-west of India, in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Oman. Soldier lapwing nests in Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea, gray - in Japan and northeast China.

It is interesting! Spur lapwing lives in Turkey, in the east and north of Syria, in Israel, Iraq, Jordan, and also in Africa (East and West). These lapwings were seen in Eastern Europe, including Germany and Spain.

For nesting, lapwings choose pastures, fields, low grass meadows in floodplains, extensive wastelands, meadows in the steppes (near lakes and estuaries) and salt flats with sparse vegetation. Occasionally they settle in the grass-feather grass steppes, and in the taiga - along the edges of grassy marshes or on open peat bogs. He likes moist places, but also found in dry areas.

Lapwing diet

Like the other waders, lapwings are naturally endowed with long legs that help walk in watery areas - wet meadows and swamps.

On the other hand, the lapwing is not as long as that of typical waders, its beak, which is why birds can get food from a shallow depth or on the surface. Lapwings, active in the morning, go out in search of food at dawn to catch the night beetles black beetles (before they hide in daytime shelters).

The standard diet of lapwings includes insects (and not only):

  • ground beetles, usually ground beetles and weevils;
  • slugs and worms;
  • nutcracker beetle larvae (wireworms);
  • grasshoppers and grasshoppers (in the steppe).

It is interesting! Spur lapwing, except for beetles, eats ants and mosquitoes with their larvae. He does not refuse worms, spiders, tadpoles, mollusks and even small fish. The decorated lapwing goes hunting at night, looking for invertebrates, including ants, beetles, locusts and termites. Along the way, feasts on worms, mollusks and crustaceans.

Breeding and offspring

Lapwings rush with mating, as the chicks must be grown before the onset of heat, while the earth is wet: it has a lot of worms / larvae and, most importantly, they are easy to get. That is why lapwings try to return from the south early, along with starlings and larks, usually by early March.

Breeding dates are tied to the completion of the flood, which is observed in April. The weather is still very unstable, and the first clutches often die from frost or large water, but lapwings rarely wait for the arrival of constant heat. Almost immediately upon arrival, the birds are divided into pairs, occupying individual sections.

The male is engaged in the selection of the site, combining the survey with the mating current. The current lapwing vigorously flaps its wings, abruptly changing the flight path, decreases and soars up, flipping from side to side and accompanying the entire action with loud callous cries.

It is interesting! Having staked the plot, the male digs up several nesting pits, which shows the chosen one. He stands next to the shown pit, lifting the back of the case and shaking it rhythmically. If the bride is nearby, the male sends an undertail in her direction.

Some males have mini-harems of two or even three girlfriends. If there are a lot of lapwings, they form colonial settlements in which the clutches are located almost close to each other.

The lapwing nest is located on the ground / low hummock and is a recess lined with dry grass: the grass litter may be thick or completely absent. In the clutch there are usually 4 cone-shaped olive-brown eggs with dark specks laid with narrow tops inward.

The female sits on the nest more - the male replaces her infrequently. Its main task is to protect future offspring (if the threat is serious, the female also comes to the rescue of the male). Chicks hatch after 25-29 days, and at first the mother warms them in the cold and at night, and already takes the grown-ups with them in search of food. The female leads offspring from meadows and fields, looking for moist places with an abundance of food.

Thanks to the camouflage color, the chicks are invisible against the background of the surrounding plants, and, moreover, they can skillfully hide (ridiculously freezing with “columns” like penguins). The brood is growing rapidly and after a month already stands on the wing. At the end of the summer, lapwings congregate in large flocks (up to several hundred birds), starting to roam the surroundings, and later departing for the winter.

Natural enemies

The existence of lapwing is threatened by many land and feathered predators, especially those who easily get to bird clutches. The natural enemies of lapwing are:

  • jackals;
  • Wolves
  • feral dogs;
  • birds of prey, especially hawks.

It is interesting! Lapwings easily recognize the degree of danger - they spin with screams when ravens, dogs or humans appear, but they flatten on the ground, afraid to move when they notice a goshawk in the sky.

Lapwing lapwing ravens ravens, magpies, gulls, jays and ... the inhabitants of Europe. European Union states have banned the ruin of lapwing: the last official collection of eggs for the royal table took place in 2006 in the north of the Netherlands. German peasants do not obey the law and in the spring they continue to explore the surrounding fields, looking for lapwing eggs. The first who discovers the masonry is proclaimed king and goes to the nearest tavern to celebrate surrounded by loving villagers.

Population and species status

According to the IUCN Red List, the most rare species of lapwings is Vanellus gregarius (steppe pigfish), whose number in 2017 did not exceed 11.2 thousand heads. Other lapworms do not cause concern of environmental organizations, despite a slight decline in populations since the end of the 20th century.

Ornithologists explain this by the neglect of agricultural fields and the reduction of cattle on grazing, which leads to overgrowing of meadows with weeds and shrubs, where lapwing can no longer nest. To reduce the number of lapwings and leads hunting for them, not practiced in Russia, but arranged, for example, in Spain and France. In addition, lapwing nests are often destroyed during plowing and other agricultural work.

Watch the video: Lapwing birds in Partington (February 2020).

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