Sociable Lapwing

Vanellus gregarius

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Rob Llewellyn

The Sociable lapwing is a Critically Endangered species of wetland bird. The species is found throughout the Middle East and into Eastern Europe. Around 10,000 individuals remain, but that number is thought to be decreasing. Illegal hunting of the species as well as nest destruction by farming machinary, are thought to be the largest causes of this decline.

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Distribution:

While the species has been reported in over 30 countries, many of these have seen a decline or possible extinction of local populations. A single large population still exists in the Middle East, with smaller groups and nesting sites in Ethiopia and into India.

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Habitat:

The Sociable Lapwing lives in wetland areas of grassland, occationally including desert refuge. It nests on the ground in flatland areas, showing a preference for arable and farmed areas with short vegetation.

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Diet:

This species is not exculsively an insectivore, but does eat a wide range of flying insects like moths. Small stones are often found in their stomachs along with mollusc shells and even small vertebrate bones but it is unclear if these are hunted or scavenged.

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Threats:

Hunting and habitat loss are the main causes of decline in the species. Hunting on known migration routes is common despite being illegal in many countries, leading to high adult mortality. While changes of farming practices have reduced suitable habitat and increased machinary usage destroys nests and lowers reproductive rates. This combines to cause a severe population decline.

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Conservation status:

Classified as Critically Endangered the Sociable lapwing has gone through a rapid decline in the last 20 years. Facing both increased adult mortality and reduced production rates is pressuring the species from both sides. Around 10,000 individuals remains, less than half its historical population size.