Birds by Name – L
African Wattled Lapwing
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 shy little Crested Lark, Galerida cristata, is fairly easily distinguished from other Larks by its distinctive crest, hence its name. It is found throughout mainland Europe, in Africa and parts of Asia and even China. Although non-migratory it is an occasional visitor to the UK.
The Crested Lark is mainly vegetarian, eating grains and seeds, but it will also feed on insects, such as small beetles.
It nests in depressions on the ground and lays three to five speckled brown eggs.
The Crested Lark is quite small, mainly brown and has a short tail with light brown outer feathers. The male and female are pretty much the same colouring. Young Crested Larks, however, do have more spots on their back than adults.
Species: G. cristata