Age at first breeding, philopatry and breeding site-fidelity in the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

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Abstract

Breeding Lapwings Vanellus vanellus were studied in the Eden Valley (Cumbria) and in Teesdale (County Durham) between 1990 and 1992. A total of 300 adult Lapwings and 801 near-fledged young were uniquely colour-ringed. Breeding adults were highly site-faithful, almost always nesting in the same or an adjacent field in successive years. Second-year birds were less site-faithful, with more birds nesting in adjacent and other fields and fewer in the same field in successive years. In Teesdale, 74% of colour-ringed young Lapwings returned in their first or second year of life to within 5 km from where they hatched. In contrast, in the Eden Valley only 37% of young birds in their first or second year of life returned to within 5 km from where they hatched. From an analysis of British ringing recoveries in April and May, 61% of Lapwings were recovered within 10 km from where they were ringed as chicks. A further 11% were recovered more than 100 km from where they were ringed. Young Lapwings were highly philopatric, with 45% of males and 52% of females breeding in the same field or a field adjacent to where they hatched. The majority of Lapwings (67%) began breeding at 1 year old. Of the remaining birds, 27% bred for the first time when 2 years old and 6% for the first time in their third year of life. There was no difference between the sexes. Chicks hatching and subsequently fledging late in the season returned less frequently to the study areas in subsequent years than did chicks hatching earlier in the season.

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