This is a much loved bird of the British countryside now very much reduced in numbers. It has many local names including pyewipe and peewit, after its strange creaking calls when displaying, and Green Plover. From a distance this medium-sized wader looks black and white but the black area are mostly glossy with a green or purple sheen.
The birds are crested, white neck and underparts with a broad dark chest band and chestnut under the tail. In flight they have broad rounded wings and with the linings and outer half black. This is a bird of open country whether fields, pasture or moorland that is not too arid and has a good biomass of readily accessible invertebrate food. This bird breeds in temperate areas right across from Ireland to the Pacific coast of China.
Most winter well to the South of their breeding areas and big movements are triggered by the onset of snow - the Spanish name is Ave fria - bird of the frosts. Big flocks gather from the end of the breeding season in May. Breeding population of Britain and Ireland is probably about 200,000 pairs.
There is no other crested plover in Europe.
Length 300 mm Closed wing 225 mm Weight 200 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead