Exploring the Symbolism of the Plover and Lapwing Meaning
I recently got a question from a fellow symbolic-seeker in Lithuania. She asked me about symbolic lapwing meaning because these birds kept on cropping up in her awareness. Admittedly, I’m not that familiar with lapwings. I know they are plovers. Here where I live in the US we have wading plovers which are similar to lapwings…but the traditional lapwings common in Europe are not as frequently sighted where I live in the US. However, grand storms are known to bring these birds in and sightings have been spotted in the Northeast US and Canada.
At any rate..I do have some familiarity with lapwing meaning thanks to a great, great ancestor of mine. Her name was Ugnė who lived in the Baltic region of Europe in the 1800s. I was honored to inherit a book of poetry she kept. It was like a diary of sorts, a soulful vessel of thoughts, drawings, and prose about her life and how Nature was a deeply profound influence upon her. I can relate to many of her ways and observations. In fact, much of my own responses and sharing on this website are due to Great Ugnė’s observations.
Symbolic Lapwing Meaning in Legend and Lore
While I don’t have the luxury of direct contact with the lapwing, I do have the advantage of meditation and ancestral understanding about this fascinating feathered friend. My ancestor Ugnė recorded a bit of Baltic folklore about the bird which I found in her journal. She wrote the following about the lapwing in a story told to her…
“Murmurs of war are reemerging from the men in the seaward side of the village. They say it will come within the next full moon. The women in the village seek signs for clarity, reason, and solutions.
While hunting, a father and his daughter Ana were surrounded by loudly flapping and riotous chanting of lapwings. They stopped in their tracks to listen to the birds speak. Distressing calls and feelings of foreboding waved upon them from their high-pitched heralds of potential doom and war.
When the father returned to the village Ana stayed behind and sat silently among the lapwings. She was submerged into their dance and song, refusing to hear or see anything other than the unfolding of life and preparation, ignoring what she feared most..the ravages of war. Ana spoke to them, asking them what she could do to calm their fevered pitch and hysterical gyrations.
The lapwings spoke to Ana in mesmerizing, rhythmic tones, all the while dancing like Dervishes upon the marshes. Her eyesight blurred and she was enveloped with the lapwing spirit. They said they live by protecting their innocents, and her village should do the same. Ana did not understand. She was taught none among them were innocent, as they were all children of many wars and inhabitants of a cursed world. The lapwings repeated, telling her to protect the heart of the village by protecting that which is unmolested by war or world.
Ana thought long on this. She sat in the marsh, soaking in the freshwater, immersed in the “pweek-pweek” song of the lapwing, and soaking in the sun…beckoning all this to saturate her so she might understand the lapwing message.
Still unsure, Ana gathered berries, collected moss, picked mushroom, and plucked buckthorn for tea, as this felt natural. She returned the largesse to her father and told him what the lapwing shared.
He said this is good and then they all gathered in the village. The father announced it is time to do as the lapwing does and prepare that which is unspoiled. In preparation for war, it is time to honor the gifts of nature, celebrate the bounty and store what we can to prepare and protect the innocence of nature and the innocence of the children of the village. Ana went back out into the wilderness and continued to forage while her father hunted. Ana then went back to the marshes and began weaving reed shelters for the lapwings. She wanted to protect the lapwing eggs as well as stock her village with surplus proffered from nature so that all may be protected and prepared from war.
Two full moons passed, and there was no war. Ana asked the lapwings what it all meant. They said in honoring the innocent, preparing for the worst, and protecting that which is sacred was action enough for the spirits to intervene and prevent the destruction of the village. From that day on the lapwing was considered a protective bird for the village. It was always honored by the villagers for as long as the people had memories to share. The lapwing is loved for its wisdom and praised for its willingness to intervene on behalf of the villagers and protect the village from the crushing blows of war.”
Thoughts About the Plover and Lapwing Legend
I don’t know exactly what prompted Great Ugnė to record this story about the lapwing meaning in this legend. She didn’t even specify if she knew the young girl (Ana) in the story. However, I get a clear understanding of the lapwing message: “Protect innocence by preparing a way for their continuation in the world.“
This is demonstrated by Ana and her father celebrating Nature while they forage and hunt to stock the village as they were faced with a potential war. I love that they made a conscious act of honoring Nature after taking from her bounty. I doubly love how Ana honored the lapwings by building protective reed shelters for the bird’s eggs. I think we can all learn from these sacred acts.
The underlying message heralds something like, “In times of war…whether it be emotional, domestic or any kind of conflict…protect the innocence of the heart, protect the balance in nature, and prepare the core of your community by providing for others while celebrating what you do have available around you.” At least…that’s what I took away from Ana’s story.
Other Thoughts About the Symbolic Lapwing Meaning
As mentioned, I don’t know much about lapwings other than this story Great Ugnė shared with me. I know they are plovers, and I have seen a few in my travels in Canada, so I have a bit to share in terms of the natural symbolism of the plover and lapwing. My observations combined with Ana’s story prompted me to share the following on the plover meaning and lapwing symbolism…
Wading Behavior: As a wading bird…the lapwing is symbolic of balancing reality versus intuition. Meaning…water is an emotional, intuitive force…but the land is grounding energy…and the air is an element of communication and perspective. When these types of birds enter our lives it may be a sign to listen to all of our senses for guidance. They are also a sign of balance. Incorporate physical, intuitive, vocal, instinct into action moving forward for optimal results.
Fierce Protection: Plovers and lapwings are not to be trifled with when it comes to keeping their babies safe. They are ferociously protective and will fight to the tooth to keep their egg clutches protected from predators. Symbolically, this hearkens back to Ana’s story, protect the innocent. This may be your family, or it may be something else. What is in your life that is sweet, innocent, and worthy of fighting for? Maybe it’s your self-worth. Perhaps it’s your spirituality. Or maybe you resonate with Ana and her father by celebrating Nature as the innocent and honoring the bounty of Nature by upholding eco-friendly, conservation practices.
It Takes Two: Both male and female lapwings are involved in the caretaking of their young. While females will kick the snot out of anything (including other females in the flock) that so much as looks sideways at their babies, the males are equally protective at fighting off threats. Plovers typically mate for life and tend to stick with each other through many mating seasons. Their bond is strengthened by their unified goal to protect the survival of their young. Symbolically, the lapwing asks questions about the bonds you share with others. Are you equally matched in a shared vision? Do you share a common goal? Are you both committed (and on the same page) to this common objective?
Hedge Your Bets: We see in Ana’s story and in plover behaviors that the lapwing never misses a chance to hedge their bets. To explain, the lapwing lays many clutches of eggs in a season. The couple will invest a great deal of energy protecting one clutch, while the female lays 2-3 other ancillary clutches as ‘back-ups.’ These extra nests serve as dummies or decoys. The idea is to lure predators away from the primary nest while they are distracted by the 2nd or 3rd clutches of eggs. Symbolically, this conjures up the old adage “Never count your eggs before they hatch.” Or, maybe a better way to say it is, “If you want your eggs to hatch, lay some back-up eggs for good measure.” In other words, when you’re laying your dreams, and hatching visions, have backup plans, security measures and have a plan B, C & D in place. Don’t rely on one single source for the success of your endeavors. Lapwings take measures to ensure their legacy, and so should we.
Communication is Key: Lapwing meaning is also about the intricate art of communication. They have various (and distinctive) calls in their language, and they are not shy about speaking up in times of need. Plovers and lapwings have warning calls, distress calls, and back the F-off calls. Each is clearly understood within the bird clan. They also have nifty ways of throwing their voices, or bouncing calls off each other to lure away predators. All this to say, symbolically, the lapwing encourages attention to our words and our voices. Are we communicating effectively? Is it time to clearly express our needs? What kind of language are we using to convey ourselves? The lapwing reminds us that nobody has a clue unless we speak up. Furthermore, nobody can do anything unless what we say is clearly understood.
Closing Thoughts About Symbolic Lapwing Meaning
In closing, I hope these thoughts about the plover and the lapwing offered inspiration for you. At the end of the day, these remarkable birds remind us to speak, act, protect and plan with integrity, strategy, and nobility. Special thanks to Aistė, who asked me about the symbolic lapwing meaning. This article may have never been written had she not asked. And also thanks to the spirit of Great Ugnė and Ana for the insights about life and lapwing wisdom. As always, thanks to all of you for your interest & reading!
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