Masked Lapwing

The southern species of the Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) is quite frequently seen at Urrbrae Wetland. It has a broad black patch on the head extending down the back of the neck to the shoulder and large yellow facial wattles. The sexes are similar in colouring.

The large, noisy and aggressive olive-brown backed bird is bright white below and has a prominent yellow spur with a black tip evident at the point of the shoulder. This spur is used aggressively in defence tactics at breeding time. Its long red legs enable it to wade into water after aquatic insects.

Masked Lapwings frequent open, wet grasslands, improved pastures, airfields and road verges, mostly near water. They feed on worms, insects and small invertebrates, or seeds in dry times. They are mostly seen in pairs or singly, but may be in large flocks at non-breeding times.

They favour wet weather for breeding, hence our southern species breeds in June to October, or following heavy rains. Their nest is a scrape in open ground, lined with grasses and debris, amazingly camouflaged. There are 3 to 4 eggs, and both parents co-operate in nest building and brood protection.