Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone! To celebrate the day, we’re going to be discussing some facts about the national bird of Ireland, the Northern lapwing.
1. The average wingspan of the Northern lapwing is about 2 and a half feet across. Their body, from tip of beak to tail, is just a little over 1 foot long.
2. Northern lapwings eat small vegetation or on small insects or bugs, normally found close to water. They prefer to do their foraging and eating at night.
3. These birds belong to the larger lapwing family. The lapwings are so called because of the lapping sound that their wings make in flight.
4. Northern lapwings are also locally called peewits or tuits, after the sound they make. In some locations, they are also called green plovers.
5. The mother Northern lapwings defend their nests and chicks fiercely and loudly, even sometimes needing to scare away horses or cows who wander too close for comfort.
6. If a predator is getting too close to the nest, the mother lapwing will draw the danger away by limping in a direction away from the nest and trailing a wing as if it is broken. Often, the predator will follow the actor and never get near the eggs or the chicks.
7. Unlike many bird species, there is not much sexual dimorphism to be found with Northern lapwings. That means that, while there are very slight differences, males and females have the same size, coloring, and plumage.
8. Northern lapwings typically call Northwestern Europe home, but in the winter they migrate far and wide, with some birds ending up as far away as China, with most settling in India or the Middle East for the cold months.
9. Lapwings will not often come to North America. The times when they have been spotted in Canada or the farthest Northern United States were after large storms.
10. Male Northern lapwings make a wide variety of unusual songs while they perform their courting dance in midair. These types of calls are only heard from the males during the mating season, in their attempts to impress the females.
11. In recent years, the population of Northern lapwings in the UK has declined, and charities have given grants to farmers to leave some of their fields untilled to provide densely covered ground for nesting.
12. Over the last century, the time of nesting for lapwings has steadily gotten pushed earlier and earlier into the year, with the current norm being the beginning of March (so there are plenty of lapwing chicks right about now). Scientists are attributing this to climate change.
I hope you all have a safe time celebrating the holiday today, however you want to do so. And if you don’t do anything for Saint Patrick’s Day, I hope that this interesting little bird brightened your day nonetheless. Thank you for reading. If you have a question or request for a future blog topic, please feel free to leave one in the comments down below. We publish a new blog every Tuesday and Friday so, until next time, goodbye!