Birds by Name – L
This rather cute bird is the Masked Lapwing, Vanellus miles, a medium-sized, ground-dwelling bird native to Australia. It is mainly white below, with brown wings and back and a black crown and nape separated from the mantle by a white collar. It has a yellow bill and a distinctive, bright yellow wattle that reaches well behind the eye and hangs down beside the chin.
It spends most of its time on the ground searching for food such as insects and worms, mainly just below the surface or sometimes on the surface itself.
The Masked Lapwing spread to New Zealand in the 1930’s and is now widespread throughout the whole country where it is known as the Spur-winged Plover.
The Masked Lapwing is a generally friendly and builds its nest on virtually any bit of land, even car parks and airports. However, building nests in such open places means it has to defend them during the breeding season, and that’s when it can become quite aggressive.
Unfortunately, being quite small, it doesn’t have many defences and mainly continually swoops down on intruders, making a noise and hitting them with its feet. The best it can hope for is to scare intruders away. They will sometimes use a decoy tactic by pretending to be defend a nest in an attempt to lure intruders away from the chicks in the real nest.
Species: V. miles
The (Northern) Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus, is a familiar bird in Europe frequenting farmed countryside and is often seen in huge flocks. They are also regularly seen at the edges of shallow water. Lapwing have a lovely green sheen mixed with purple and copper, a distinctive black cap and a very wispy crest.
The Lapwing grows to between 28 and 33 cm, has a wingspan of between 67 and 87 cm and weighs in at 128 to 330 grams. It has rounded wings and a distinctive crest.
Lapwings eat insects, spiders and worms.
The Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) is also known variously as the Peewit, Green Plover or, in the British Isles, just as plain old Lapwing. It is a member of the plover family.
Species: V. vanellus
The Spur-winged Lapwing or Spur-winged Plover, Vanellus spinosus, is a largish wader in the family Charadriidae and breeds around the eastern Mediterranean and in the area from sub-Saharan west Africa to Arabia.
It has a black crown, chest, and tail and the face, neck and belly are white. The wings and back are light brown and the bill and legs are black.
It is usually found in marshes and other wetlands and feeds on insects and small invertebrates.
The Spur-winged Lapwing usually lays two yellowy coloured eggs
Species: V. spinosus
The Long-tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus, is a fairly common sight throughout Europe and Asia and is easily recognised by its long tail which is longer than its body.
It is small and grows to a length of between 13 and 15 centimetres, of which 7 to 9 ccentimetres is its tail.
It mainly eats insects but will try other things such as seeds in the autumn and winter.
Species: A. caudatus