Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-wattled Lapwing ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 4/19/16
While we’re on the subject of Lapwings, here is a rather smart Asian one, the Red-wattled Lapwing, which bears more than a passing resemblance to its close relative the Banded Lapwing of Australia. The Banded Lapwing differs in having a yellow eye-ring and yellow base to the bill, pink legs, and the black and white pattern on the head and neck is different too.
It’s usually found near water, like this one on the Yamuna River which flows through Delhi but is otherwise fairly catholic in its habitat preferences, which include cultivated land and it is quite common in some densely populated areas. Both House Crows and humans like its eggs but in India it has taken to nesting on pebbled roofs and walls instead of on the ground. This probably doesn’t inconvenience the crows too much, but studies have shows that this leads to a spectacular increase in hatching and fledging success. Like all plovers, the chicks are mobile at an early age but don’t fly till much later, so you’d wonder how well they fare running around on rooftops. Maybe they bounce well.
It was originally described from Indian specimens, hence the specific name indicus. In fact it ranges quite widely from Turkey in the west through the southern part of the Middle East to all of southern and southeast Asia. The original type found in India is the nominate race, but three other sub-species are described. I came across the western race aigneri in Dubai a couple of years ago, third photo, when visiting an equestrian park where the main attraction was – no not horses – the Cream-coloured Courser This race has larger and paler than the Indian one, but otherwise rather similar. There is a third race in Sri Lanka and a fourth in southeast Asia which has a white cheek above a completely black collar and is also called the Black-necked Lapwing.
The fourth photo shows a juvenile bird of the western race at the same place. The red wattle is incompletely developed, the crown is brownish and there are pale streaks on the throat. Otherwise, it is quite like the adult.
Many thanks for those of you who responded to my successful call for house-sitters. I’m sorry to have disappointed some suitable applicants, but I’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au
“And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)
What a great looking bird. I like the clean lines on them and the stately look of that first photo especially. Thanks, Ian, for sharing this beautiful Lapwing with us.
Lapwings are one of the birds in the Bible listed not to eat. These are too pretty and their legs are too skinny. :)