This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
This exceedingly lively and nimble well-known bird, all its movements suggesting possession of great instinctive powers, takes to confinement without demur, provided it be captured just before being capable of flight, and thrives either in a walled, boarded or wire-fenced garden, living entirely upon insect food. One wing must be pinioned (Fig. 143) or have the feathers shortened, the latter being most humane, but requires to be repeated from time to time.
Fig. 143. - Lapwing Pinioned.
The captive peewit requires a supply of water in a shallow vessel during dry weather, and in severe winters or during frost and snow-visits the outsides of fruit or plant houses, when the bird must be admitted to the interiors, where it will subsist for weeks on food derived from the soil of beds and borders. Cool structures, such as greenhouses or winter gardens, or houses in which bedding plants are wintered, the area beneath the stages being soil, prove most satisfactory. Where the floor is a hard one or there is likely to be a scarcity of worms, pieces of fresh, raw, lean beef cut into small strips resembling earthworms, should be daily provided for the captive, with a supply of water in a saucer.
In the way described we have kept peewits several years in a walled kitchen-garden, the birds (not more than two per acre area) regularly coming to the door of a large greenhouse with earth-bed and border on the setting-in of severe weather, entering the structure readily on opening the door, and abiding contentedly during the "hard" frost and snow period. On the approach of a general thaw the peewits waited near the door and came out of their own accord in due time, giving no trouble during the many years of their captivity and life, but the replenishing of saucers in an angle of the garden with water during dry weather.
Peewits are great ornaments in pleasure grounds, especially in damp places near water, and they do well, provided that on the approach of severe weather they are transferred to a cool greenhouse, winter garden, or fernery, till the return of mild weather.