Sociable Lapwing Colony Found

In the year 2003, the Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious) was listed as a critically endangered bird species, as it was thought that a mere two hundred breeding pairs remained. As the rarest bird on earth, sightings of the Sociable Lapwing were few, but recently an expedition team traveled across Syria and made a historical discovery. They found one of the largest bird colonies ever recorded in the last one hundred years. A discovery that brings new hope for this magnificent bird species and could secure their survival.

At a height of approximately thirty centimeters, the Sociable Lapwing is just a little smaller than its counterpart, the Northern Lapwing. It does not require its breeding sites to have large bodies of water and it is quite comfortable to breed in grasslands and drier areas. They can be distinguished by the white eye-stripe and their crowns that are black in color. Their call is easily recognizable and in summer, the adults’ plumage is gray of color on their backs and on their breast, with their bellies being darker. In winter, the plumage turns to a more brownish color and their distinctive markings on their heads are less recognizable. During flight, their wings give away their identity immediately, colored in brown, white and gray and with tail plumage sporting white feathers with a black terminal band.

Sociable Lapwings are migratory birds and spend their winters in the Middle East and migrate to Central Asia for summer. Many bird species are easily driven from their usual nesting grounds through human activity and encroachment on the habitat. These birds are therefore forced to find new breeding grounds, or risk extinction. The discoveries of large populations in Syria, Turkey and Kazakstan have restored faith in ornithologists and wild life conservation societies that this bird species can be saved.

Authorities are working feverishly to instill protection laws on these areas to ensure that the colonies return to these sites and that they are able to breed and live in peace, without the threat from human activity. Conservationists in Turkey are trying to raise public awareness in regard to the Sociable Lapwing and are keeping careful watch over their colonies. Kazakstan and Syria are hoping to raise enough funds for their tagging projects, which will enable ornithologists and wildlife societies to track the birds. Hopefully, in the future, scientist and conservationist will be able to decrease their efforts to save the Sociable Lapwing, sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor.