Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) - Wiki
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[Photo] Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) Date 2005. Author Brett Donald. Image URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Maskedlapwing.jpg
The Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles), previously known as the Masked Plover or Tasmanian Plover, is a large, common and conspicuous bird native to Australia, particularly the northern and eastern parts of the continent. It spends most of its time on the ground searching for food and has several distinctive calls.
Masked Lapwings are a shy and harmless bird in summer and autumn but are best known for their bold nesting habits, being quite prepared to make a nest on almost any stretch of open ground, including suburban parks and gardens, school ovals, and even supermarket carparks. Breeding season happens after Winter Solstice and the nesting pair then defends its territory against all intruders (and that includes footballs and remote controlled cars or aircraft), calling loudly, swooping fast and low, and where necessary striking at the interloper with the conspicuous yellow spur on the carpal joint of the wing. Attacks are most vicious on other birds such as Ravens, and also cats and dogs but once the chicks reach 60% in size after 2-3 months, the chances of this happening decrease. Strikes are rare and sometimes the bird can damage its wing in a strike but usually survives as the wing takes 6-8 months to heal. Some Masked Lapwings never breed due to increased dangers such as people on footpaths, cars. Nearly always two birds are seen together, male and female but many can be seen in groups at times, especially during feeding on coastlines. The chick reaches full height after 6 months and will often stay with the parents for 1 to 2 years.
Masked Lapwings are most common around the edges of wetlands and in other moist, open environments, but are adaptable and can often be found in surprisingly arid areas. They can also be found on beaches (especially in NW Tasmania) and can swim.
There are two distinct races which until recently were thought to be separate species. The Masked Lapwing of Northern Australia (Vanellus miles miles) has an all-white neck and large yellow wattles, the Spur-winged Plover of the southern and eastern states (Vanellus miles novaehollandiae) has a black neck-stripe and smaller wattles. (Note that the northern hemisphere Spur-winged Plover is a different bird: see Spur-winged Plover.)
Vanellus miles novaehollandiae became self introduced to Southland, New Zealand in the 1930s and has now spread throughout New Zealand, where it is known as the Spur-winged Plover.
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