NATURE TABLE: The lapwing

Lapwings are pigeon-sized waders with several alternative names, the commonest of which are green plover and peewit.

They have a long crest on their heads and, although their plumage is a subtle mix of colours, at a distance they appear black and white. They are easily distinguished in the air by their blunt wings, broadest at the tip, and an irregular, floppy flight pattern.

The Irish breeding population has crashed in recent years and is now regarded as very vulnerable. Large flocks of migrants arrive in winter, driven by frosty weather in continental Europe, though their numbers are also declining. Several reserves have been established in this country to try and protect our remaining breeding birds. The reason for their decline seems to be changing farming practices combined with an increase in predation at nest sites.

They are very gregarious and in winter flocks can be found at various coastal and some inland sites. Their principal food at inland sites is earthworms and a variety of invertebrates is eaten at the sea shore.


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