The Southern Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles novaehollandiae) is a common birld in the Charadriidae family and Vanellinae sub-family of plovers, lapwings, and dotterels.
The Southern Masked Lapwing has a rounded body, brown on its upperside and white on its underbelly and neck. It has distinctive black markings on its shoulders and the sides of its chest. It has a black crown and nape, with a yellow face and small, black eyes. It has small yellow wattles (skin) hanging from its neck. It has reddish-brown legs.
It grows to 30-37 centimetres (12-15 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 75-85 centimetres (30-33 inches).
The Masked Lapwing is native to Australia, particularly in northern and eastern regions, as well as in New Zealand and New Guinea. The Southern Masked Lapwing is found in southern Australia and New Zealand.
It prefers fields, open land, and the edges of wetlands. It is also seen on beaches and coastlines.
It spends most of its time on the ground, foraging for food. It eats insects and worms.
The Southern Masked Lapwing is often seen in pairs or small family groups of 3-5 individuals.
It makes a nest, called a scrape, on open ground, even in city parks and gardens. It noisily defends its territory and nest from intruders. The female lays 1-3 eggs. Both parents look after the eggs, which hatch after 21-27 days.
The chicks are precocial, which means that they have some feathers when they are born, and they open their eyes soon after hatching. They gain their flight feathers after about 30 days. They stay with their parents for one or two years.
It lives, on average, for 16 years.
Location of photograph: Canberra, Australia
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM