Meadow birds

Northern Lapwing

Acrobat of the sky

Lapwings are typical meadow birds. Nevertheless, they are now often seen on arable land, as they prefer areas with short and sparse vegetation, e.g. stubble fields. They forage mainly in or on top of the soil. Their diet consists of insects, such as beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers, but they also eat other small animals, such as worms, or vegetable food. 

Lapwings are usually active during the day, but they can also be heard calling during bright nights. They are social birds, as their clutches are often laid in colonies and defended together. Characteristic features of Lapwings are their acrobatic flight manoeuvres and the black curl of feathers on their head, the so-called crest.


Scientific nameVanellus vanellus
CallPeewit … peewit
FoodSmall invertebrates, sometimes seeds
In breeding groundsFebruary to June
Clutch size3–4, usually 4
Broods per year1–2
Population trend in EuropeDeclining


More information

Find out more about the Northern Lapwing.


The Lapwing is a breeding bird of open, largely woodless habitats. It prefers absent or short vegetation. These structures are mainly found in wet grasslands. Where this is lacking, the Lapwing also tries to breed in maize stubble fields and freshly tilled fields, but this is often unsuccessful.


Lapwings are migratory birds. From February to June they are in their breeding grounds, which include the German state of Lower Saxony and the Dutch province of Fryslân. 

When their chicks have fledged, both adult and young birds migrate to north-western Europe (e.g. France or Great Britain) to spend the winter there. In mild winters, Lapwings sometimes winter in northern Germany.


For the protection of the Lapwing, it is essential to conserve and restore suitable habitats. This includes, in particular, the rewetting of grasslands with shallow waters and shallow shore areas. Areas suitable for the Lapwing may only be managed extensively, i.e. without fertilisers and pesticides, among other things.