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Q&A

Help identifying black and white "square winged" bird?

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I keep seeing a particular bird lately and I don't recognise it. Can anyone help?

I've only ever seen it from the car and in flight so I have no photo's unfortunately.

  • It's black and white
  • about the size of a magpie (possibly bigger, has broader wings)
  • Has very "square" short but wide wings in flight
  • Has a strange "swooping" flight pattern, tips it's wings backwards and forwards flashing the distinctive coloured underside
  • The tops of the wings are black
  • The underside of the wings are black and white, black on the tips with a wide flash of white
  • Distinctive flash of white on the underside of the neck.

At first I got excited thinking it was an osprey but I'm now pretty sure that's incorrect, it doesn't appear to be bird of prey too me. I put the weird flight pattern down to it being mobded by crows but it seems to always do it. Almost like a display.

the first time I saw the bird it was in a field next to the sea. So I thought it was a sea bird, but now I've also seen one inland by my house. So I think it's a farmland bird. I've only ever seen one or two, never a flock. I live in North Wales. I've tried googling it but I don't seem to get any results...

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/8372. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Of the three possibles I came up with from your description (wagtail, oystercatcher and lapwing), wagtail was ruled out by its size, and you would have seen an oystercatcher's beak as they are pretty bright (and oystercatchers don't have a swooping flight) - the only one that matches correctly is the lapwing.

It is black and white and has very squared off wings. On the ground the crest of feathers is obvious, but in flight the flash of white on the underside of the wings and the swooping display flight pattern are quickly identifiable.

enter image description here

Picture from the RSPB website.

If you get to hear one, they have a call that can be piercing or melancholy - and which gives them their common name, Peewit.

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