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Lapwing Facts and Figures

The meadow or wader bird, the Lapwing, searches for treeless, biodiverse wet meadows with low-land and flood hollows. Its habitat is disappearing in many places and along with it the Lapwing and many other meadow bird species.

Detail: Second lapwing meadow

A meadow for the Lapwing

The Lapwing is a meadow bird. The term meadow bird refers to bird species that predominantly occupy wet grasslands, breed on the ground where they raise their young, or use wet meadows in order to find their particular food biotope, as a dwelling or to pass through. Due to the fact that their traditional habitat is often destroyed or is decreasing rapidly, meadow birds such as the Lapwing earn the wet grassland of our landscape as an alternative habitat.

Open view for meadow-breeders

Meadow-breeding birds need a good open landscape in order to be able to see enemies coming. For example the Western Curlew needs even more open landscape than other species, that is not broken up by trees or seedlings. For food, meadow birds are dependent on flooded low-land, ponds and levelled ditches. On top of this the wetness of the ground plays an important role. The ultimate demand comes for example from Common Snipe, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit, who can only poke and probe for food in wet ground.

The Lapwing threatens to disappear

Alongside the typical long-legged and long-beaked meadow-breeding birds, the Lapwing and White Stork also count as native species of wet and damp meadows. However, whilst the White Stork is currently experiencing a recovery, the Lapwing threatens to be the latest meadow-breeder to disappear from our landscape. The Western Curlew has already disappeared and along with it many other animal and plant species typical of the meadow. The Lapwing has survived until now, because it is the last meadow bird in the area to avoid bordering fields But that is no guarantee of survival for the chicks, which are precocial.

Not many successful breeders surviving

For the Lapwing, fields are in fact an ecological disaster and the Lapwing population continues to decrease sharply. The few successful breeders can no longer offset the losses.

Lapwing profile – Vanellus vanellus

  • Charadriiformes family
  • Belongs to the meadow-breeders or ‘Charadriiforms’
  • Size: 28 – 31 cm, around the size of a pigeon
  • Wingspan: up to 75 cm
  • Upper side: green
  • Underside: black-and-white
  • Call: 'pee - wit, pee – wit!'
  • Acrobatic mating display
  • Long white feather on its head

Presence in South Hesse:

  • In the Main-Kinzig region, often passing through.
  • In earlier times often as a breeding bird, today this is very rare.
  • In Winter only in very small numbers.
  • February: meeting in the breeding area.
  • Late Autumn: on its way south.


  • Original habitat: low-moor bogs, wet grassland, meadows and pasture land.
  • Features: flat, relatively treeless, open for miles around, low vegetation.
  • Today’s habitat: meadows and fields used for agriculture.


  • Very varied: insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, ants and their larvae.
  • Earthworms.
  • Seeds and fruits of meadow plants.


  • They nest on the ground.
  • Laying begins from March.
  • Size of brood: 4 eggs.
  • Time taken for eggs to hatch: 26 – 29 days.
  • Both male and female Lapwing sit on the eggs.
  • The chicks are precocial.
  • They fly after 35 – 40 days.
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