Lapwing

At a distance the lapwing looks black and white, on close inspection it has rich greens and shades of red on its back and wings, with an orange vent under its tail. In flight, it looks all black from above and white with black wing ends from underneath. It calls in flight with a plaintive ’pee-wit’, its vernacular name.

In spring, males arrive first to select territories; they fly spectacular aerial displays and flick from one side to the other showing their black and white, under wing pattern. Listen as they do this, you hear a soft waa-waa noise. Is this why they are called lapwings? The males in breeding plumage have a high gloss finish. When a female is passing a male bows forward to his proposed nest site showing his orange vent. Both birds share incubation. The chicks feed themselves on insects when they hatch and the adults guard between two and six chicks.

Present throughout Scotland. They winter on arable farmland in large flocks, but in spring they are seen in pairs on breeding sites on unimproved pasture and wetland.

Most waders have long sensitive beaks to find invertebrate food. At times, lapwings use their feet to drum the ground to encourage worms to the surface. Watch an adult bird walk and stop with a half bent leg. It drums with the foot and then listens and bends down to take a worm near the surface. The chicks feed in and around damp ground and animal dung taking insects on the surface.