In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on March 17 each year, here’s a look at one popular bird in Ireland – the Northern lapwing ‑ as well as some parrots whose plumage will make us all green with envy.
While Ireland doesn’t have an official national bird (yet!), the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) — also referred to as the green plover — seems to be garnering a good deal of votes among bird enthusiasts. This bird’s distinguishing features include rounded wings, a black crest, and its striking colors, which loosely resemble the colors in Ireland’s flag (green, white and orange) with its green-tinged and copper-colored back with a white belly and light orange-tinged undertail coverts.
The northern lapwing’s name is said to either come from the lapping sound of its wings in flight or the lapwing’s unique way of drawing predators away from the nest, which is to trail its wing behind it as if it has an injured wing. The lapwing also has a tenacious alarm call, which it will unleash at intruders near the nest. No traditional Irish foods like potatoes or corn beef and cabbage for this bird — the lapwing prefers to eat at night under the moonlight, and dines on insects and other small invertebrates.
Parrots Ready for St. Patrick’s Day
There will be no pinching these parrots on St. Patrick’s Day … they wear their green all year long!
In lay speak “green parrot” is a common name for an Amazon parrot, as green is their dominant color. Amazons are also known for their outgoing personalities, and many have a penchant for singing. Check out this radio interview featuring a double yellow-headed Amazon parrot from Ireland who cheers on his favorite Irish football team by singing the Irish ballad, “The Fields of Athenry.”
Male Eclectus parrots are so visually different than females that ornithologists once believed they were two separate species of parrot. With the female being predominantly red and the male a lush green, you might say that an Eclectus pair looks like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s day paired together.
The white bellied caique (Pionites leucogaster) just so happens to have all the colors of the Irish flag, green, white and orange. Words that describe caiques, which also include the black-headed caique, are spunky and bouncy. These energetic birds love to hop around! Here’s a fun clip of a caique doing the Irish “Riverance.”