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Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

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.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.5,200,000-10,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: < c.10,000 individuals on migration and > c.10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). 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).

Behaviour Most populations of this species are fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) and travel on a broad front out of Europe (Snow and Perrins 1998) although some breeding populations in more temperate regions are sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1996). 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 (Johnsgard 1981), even semi-colonially (Trolliet 2003), in optimal habitat (Johnsgard 1981). The species may roost communally at night during both the breeding and non-breeding seasons (Urban et al. 1986) and after breeding the species gathers in large flocks for migration (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and remains highly gregarious during the winter (Urban et al. 1986, Snow and Perrins 1998) in flocks of several thousand (Hayman et al. 1986). Habitat Breeding 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 (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996), bogs (Johnsgard 1981) and arable fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non- breeding 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). Diet Its diet consists of adult and larval insects (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. beetles, ants, Diptera, crickets (del Hoyo et al. 1996), grasshoppers, dragonflies, mayflies, cicadas and Lepidoptera) (Urban et al. 1986), spiders, snails (del Hoyo et al. 1996), earthworms (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), frogs, small fish (Africa) (Urban et al. 1986) and seeds or other plant material (Africa) (Urban et al. 1986). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape in short grass vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information Short swards are the most profitable foraging habitat for the species (Devereux et al. 2004) so the application of cattle-grazing (Olsen and Schmidt 2004), preferably intensively (e.g. > 1 cow per hectare), may be successful in increasing abundances of the species on grasslands. On coastal grazing saltmarsh however it may be desirable to exclude cattle from selected areas in the spring where the rate of grass growth is slow (Hart et al. 2002). In the UK it has been found that a mosaic of unflooded grassland, winter-flooded grassland and shallow pools may provide optimal conditions for this species to breed (Ausden et al. 2001). It has also been found that shallow pools on coastal grazing marshes should be maintained until the end of June, as the aquatic invertebrates contained within them can be an important part of this species's diet (Ausden et al. 2003). Another UK study found that the species shows a preference for feeding in rills (relict saltmarsh drainage channels) in coastal grazing marshes, especially those with many branches (Milsom et al. 2002). It is possible to attract breeding pairs just by flooding rills during April and May to create water-margin habitats for feeding, rather than extensively flooding the land (i.e. marshes can therefore be managed to encourage lapwing breeding without preventing the grazing of cattle) (Milsom et al. 2002). At Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland the species showed a preference for nesting in the spring on open areas created by cutting rush beds in mid-winter (Robson and Allcorn 2006). It is also known to show increased hatching successes when ground predators have been excluded by erecting protective cages or fences around individual nests or nesting areas (Jackson 2001, Isaksson et al. 2007). The number of breeding pairs on improved grassland was successfully increased on a reserve in Wales by the implementation of a two-year rotation of chisel ploughing, as well as a seasonal sheep and cattle grazing regime and a controlled increase in the water-level (Squires and Allcorn 2006).

This species suffered past declines as a result of land-use intensification, wetland drainage and egg collecting (del Hoyo et al. 1996). 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, inorganic fertilising and reseeding) (Baldi et al. 2005). 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). Utilisation 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).

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.

Ausden, M.; Rowlands, A.; Sutherland, W. J.; James, R. 2003. Diet of breeding Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Redshank Tringa totanus on coastal grazing marsh and implications for habitat management. Bird Study 50: 285-293.

Ausden, M.; Sutherland, W. J.; James, R. 2001. The effects of flooding lowland wet grassland on soil macroinvertebrate prey of breeding wading birds. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 320-338.

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.; 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.

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.; 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: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 356. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Hart, J. D.; Milsom, T. P.; Baxter, A.; Kelly, P. F.; Parkin, W. K. 2002. The impact of livestock on Lapwing Vanellus vanellus breeding densities and performance on coastal grazing marsh. Bird Study 49(1): 67-78.

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.

Isaksson, D.; Wallander, J.; Larsson, M. 2007. Managing predation on ground-nesting birds: the effectiveness of nest exclosures. Biological Conservation 136: 136-142.

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.

Milsom, T. P.; Hart, J. D.; Parkin, W. K.; Peel, S. 2002. Management of coastal grazing marshes for breeding waders: the importance of surface topography and wetness. Biological Conservation 103: 199-207.

Olsen, H.; Schmidt, N. M. 2004. Impacts of wet grassland management and winter severity on wader breeding numbers in eastern Denmark. Basic and Applied Ecology 5: 203-210.

Robson, B.; Allcorn, R. I. 2006. Rush cutting to create nesting patches for lapwings Vanellus vanellus and other waders, Lower Lough Erne RSPB reserve, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Conservation Evidence 3: 81-83.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 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.

Squires, R.; Allcorn, R. I. 2006. The effect of chisel ploughing to create nesting habitat for breeding lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Ynys-Hir RSPB reserve, Powys, Wales. Conservation Evidence 3: 77-78.

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.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. 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.

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
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Malpas, L.

Chan, S., Mischenko, A., Stroud, D., Trolliet, B.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Vanellus vanellus. Downloaded from on 08/10/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 08/10/2015.

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 Least Concern
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