Lapwing, a plover of the genus vanellus (Linn.). The bill is shorter than the head, slender, and straight, vaulted and curved at the end of both mandibles; wings very long and pointed, with the second and third quills equal and longest; tail moderate, broad, and even; tarsi longer than the middle toe, rather slender; anterior toes united at the base, hind toe not reaching the ground; claws short and slightly curved. About half a dozen species are described in Europe, South America, and northern Africa. They live in pairs in marshy moors and in dry or open districts, collecting in winter into flocks on the downs and seashore; their flight is rapid, and accompanied by a fanning noise, which has given them their name, and is performed with numerous singular evolutions and often repeated notes; they run with great speed on the ground. The food consists of worms, slugs, and insects; the nest is made of dried grass, and is placed in a slight hollow in the ground, generally containing four eggs; they adopt various stratagems to divert attention from the nest and young.

The European lapwing (V. cristatus, Meyer) is a very handsome bird, of about the size of a pigeon; the upper parts are deep glossy green; the top of the head, crest, fore part of the neck, and breast black; sides of the neck, abdomen, and base of the tail white; a long delicate crest falls gracefully over the back; the tail feathers, except the outer, terminate in a large black space. The females and young have less metallic lustre, and their tints are less black. It is rather shy, but the males are very pugnacious in the love season; the eggs are greenish, spotted with black; incubation lasts 24 days. The flesh, though generally lean and dry, is esteemed as food, and the eggs are said to be delicious. It is widely distributed throughout Europe, northern Asia, and northern Africa. Some of the foreign species, as the V. Caya-nensis (Gmel.), have a spur at the fold of the wing, but in other respects resemble the European lapwing; they are very noisy, like most of the plovers. Other lapwings of allied genera have fleshy appendages and caruncles at the base of the bill, as well as spurs on the wings, and defend themselves bravely against birds of prey. - For characters of the family, see Plover.

Lapwing (Vauellus cristatus).

Lapwing (Vauellus cristatus).