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Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

This species is suspected to be decreasing at a moderately rapid rate. It is therefore classified as Near Threatened. Should new information suggest these declines are occurring more rapidly it would warrant uplisting; it almost meets the requirements for listing as threatened under criteria A2abce+3bce+4abce.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

28-31 cm. Metallic glossy green upperparts with blackish crest and bronze scapulars. Very broad wings. Non-breeding adult with buff face, white chin and throat, upperwing-coverts and scapulars have buff fringes. Juvenile similar to non-breeding adult (Wiersma and Sharp 2015).

Distribution and population
The species breeds from Europe, Turkey and north-west Iran through western Russia and Kazakhstan to southern and eastern Siberia, Mongolia and northern China. It winters from western Europe, the east Atlantic islands and North Africa through the Mediterranean, Middle East and Iran across northern India to south-east China, the Korean peninsula and southern Japan (Wiersma and Sharpe 2015).

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c. 5,600,000-10,500,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2012). The European population is estimated at 1,590,000-2,580,000 pairs, which equates to 3,190,000-5,170,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2015). In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01), based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008); this is supported by recent data from Europe, suggesting the European population is decreasing by 30-49% in 27 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). A strong decline is also reported for the European and western Asian population between 1988 and 2012, based on annual mid-winter counts (Nagy et al. 2014). No recent trend data is available for the two other flyway populations (breeding in southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northern China and wintering in southern and eastern Asia; Wetlands International 2015).

The species shows a preference for breeding on wet natural grasslands (Trolliet 2003), meadows and hay meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996) with short swards (Hayman et al. 1986, Devereux et al. 2004) and patches of bare soil (Johnsgard 1981) at low altitudes (Hayman et al. 1986) (less than 1,000 m) (Snow and Perrins 1998). It will also breed on grassy moors, swampy heaths, bogs and arable fields (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996). The nest is a shallow scrape in short grass vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996). During the winter the species utilises large open pastures for roosting (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and forages on damp grassland, irrigated land (Urban et al. 1986), stubble and ploughed fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996), riverbanks, lake shores, fresh and saline marshes, drainage ditches, estuaries and mudflats (Africa) (Urban et al. 1986). Its diet consists of adult and larval insects (e.g. beetles, ants, Diptera, crickets, grasshoppers, dragonflies, mayflies, cicadas and Lepidoptera), spiders, snails, earthworms, frogs, small fish (Africa) and seeds or other plant material (Africa) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Most populations of this species are fully migratory and travel on a broad front out of Europe although some breeding populations in more temperate regions are sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The species breeds from April to July (Hayman et al. 1986) in solitary pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1996) although pairs may also nest close together in optimal habitat (Johnsgard 1981, Trolliet 2003).

This species suffered past declines as a result of land-use intensification, wetland drainage and egg collecting (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Land-use intensification remains a problem: today it is threatened by reduced breeding productivity as a result of intensifying and changing agricultural practices (del Hoyo et al. 1996), especially the improvement of grasslands (e.g. by drainage, application of inorganic fertilizers and reseeding) (Baldi et al. 2005) and loss of field margins and semi-natural habitat. Important migratory stop-over habitats for this species on the Baltic Sea coastline are threatened by petroleum pollution, wetland drainage for irrigation, land abandonment and changing land management practices leading to scrub overgrowth (Grishanov 2006). Clutch destruction may also occur during spring cultivation (using machinery) on arable fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is susceptible to avian botulism so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease (Hubalek et al. 2005), and may suffer from nest predation by introduced mammals (e.g. European Hedgehog Erinaceus europeaus) on some islands (Jackson 2001). The species is hunted for commercial use (to be sold as food) and for recreational purposes in Iran (Balmaki and Barati 2006), and is hunted in France, Greece, Italy and Spain (Trolliet 2003).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex II. Bern Convention Annex III. Management of habitat for this species occurs in several European countries and agro-environment schemes are in place in France, the Netherlands and the U.K. (Petersen 2009) although they have been shown to not always be effective (Breeuwer et al. 2009). A European management plan was published in 2009 (Petersen 2009).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Ensure incentives are in place for landowners to restore and manage suitable habitat as well as reduce pesticide use. Reduce hunting pressure, record reliable bag statistics and create awareness campaigns, targeted at hunters, about the decline of this species. Develop management schemes to reduce predation as well as monitoring and research programmes to inform conservation measures (Petersen 2009).

Ahas, R.; Aasa, A. 2006. The effects of climate change on the phenology of selected Estonian plant, bird and fish populations. International Journal of Biometeorology 51: 17-26.

Baines, D. 1988. The effects of improvement of upland grassland on the distribution and density of breeding wading birds (Charadriiformes) in northern England. Biological Conservation 45: 221-236.

Baldi, A., Batary, B. and Erdos, S. 2005. Effects of grazing intensity on bird assemblages and populations of Hungarian grasslands. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 108: 251-263.

Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Both, C.; Piersma, T.; Roodbergen, S. P. 2005. Climate change explains much of the 20th century advance in laying date of Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus in The Netherlands. Ardea 93: 79-88.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Devereux, C. L.; McKeever, C. U.; Benton, T. G.; Whittingham, M. J. 2004. The effect of sward height and drainage on Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris and Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus foraging in grassland habitats. Ibis 146: 115-122.

Grishanov, D. 2006. Conservation problems of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and their habitats in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 356. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Hubalek, Z., Skorpikova, V.; Horal, D. 2005. Avian botulism at a sugar beet processing plant in South Moravia (Czech Republic). Vetinarni Medicina 50(10): 443-445.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Jackson, D. B. 2001. Experimental Removal of Introduced Hedgehogs Improves Wader Nest Success in the Western Isles, Scotland. Journal of Applied Ecology 38(4): 802-812.

Jenkins, D.; Watson, A. 2000. Dates of first arrival and song of birds during 1974-1999 in mid-Deeside, Scotland. Bird Study 47: 249-251.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Petersen, B.S. 2009. European Management Plan 2009-2011: Lapwing Vanellus vanellus.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sokolov, L. V.; Gordienko, N. S. 2008. Has recent climate warming affected the dates of bird arrival to the Il'men Reserve in the Southern Urals? Russian Journal of Ecology 39: 56-62.

Trolliet, B. 2003. Elements for a lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) management plan. Game and Wildlife Science 20((1-2)): 93-144.

Tryjanowski, P.; Kuzniak, S.; Sparks, T. H. 2002. Earlier arrival of some farmland migrants in western Poland. Ibis 144: 62-68.

Tryjanowski, P.; Kuzniak, S.; Sparks, T. H. 2005. What affects the magnitude of change in first arrival dates of migrant birds? Journal of Ornithology 146: 200-205.

Urban, E.K., Fry, C.H. and Keith, S. 1986. The Birds of Africa, Volume II. Academic Press, London.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Wetlands International. 2012. Waterbird Population Estimates: 5th Edition.

Wiersma, P. and Sharpe, C.J. 2015. Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Zalakevicius, M.; Bartkeviciene, G.; Raudonikis, L.; Janulaitis, J. 2006. Spring arrival response to climate change in birds: a case study from eastern Europe. Journal of Ornithology 147: 326-343.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Malpas, L., Wright, L, Pople, R., Burfield, I., Ashpole, J, Ieronymidou, C. & Wheatley, H.

Chan, S., Mischenko, A., Stroud, D., Trolliet, B., Singh, R.K.B., Perlman, Y., Vogrin, M., Sorrenti, M., Choudhury, U., Verkuil, Y., Petkov, N., Raudonikis, L. & Fefelov, I.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Vanellus vanellus. Downloaded from on 25/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Charadriidae (Plovers)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 6,700,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment