Masked Lapwings are a common visitor to grassy and wet areas of our cities and towns.
They love to nest on the ground in parks, school ovals, golf courses, sports fields, and pastures.
Masked Lapwings breed after wet weather, in summer and autumn in northern Australia and during winter to early spring in southern Australia.
As Lapwings nest on the ground, they are very protective of their eggs. They will swoop at anything that comes too close. They are serious about defending their young- they are very protective parents, and with their bright yellow masks, they are aptly named.
The Masked Lapwing is known for swooping people and animals that come too close, but it’s not being pesky. It’s only following its parental instincts and protecting its babies. Lapwings only swoop for three weeks while nesting. The rest of the time they are shy and retiring birds.
You may also know the Masked Lapwing as a Masked Plover or Spur-winged Plover.
Some people think these birds are poisonous, but this is just an urban myth.
You can help look after Masked Lapwings in your yard
The best thing you can do is watch where you walk! Masked Lapwings don’t nest high up in a tree but instead in a scrape upon the grassy ground. Watch out for eggs before mowing your lawn or when you go for a walk so you don’t tread on the Lapwings’ nest.
Masked Lapwings have ‘spurs’ on their wings, but they very rarely make contact if they swoop. They do this as a bluff to scare predators away from their nests.
Give nesting birds a wide berth or vary your walking route for the next few weeks to avoid being swooped.
Leave Masked Lapwing eggs or nests on the ground. It’s illegal to remove eggs and the birds will only re-nest and re-lay.
Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.
What is a backyard buddy?
Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Masked Lapwing is a backyard buddy.
Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the Masked Lapwing, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.
So you can be a backyard buddy.
Be a backyard buddy
It’s easy. All you have to do is care...and take a few simple steps.
Step one is to find out what Masked Lapwings do and do not like.
Masked Lapwings love:
Worms and insects – are some of their favourite foods. They also like to forage along shorelines and riverbanks during low tide for small invertebrates.
Seeds – which they eat during dry or cold weather.
Safe lawns – where they can sit on their eggs in peace. Masked Lapwings nest on the ground amongst the grass.
Shallow water – like ponds and puddles to stand in while they sleep.
But they don't like:
Lawn mowers – which can disturb them when nesting or run over their eggs. Check for Lapwing nests before mowing.
Cats and dogs – that try to catch them, or disturb their eggs or chicks.
Space invaders – who come too close to their nests during the three weeks they need to incubate their eggs. They will defend their eggs by trying to chase the predator away.
Be a buddy to the Masked Lapwing
Don't be surprised if:
Find out more about your buddies
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