NIGHT LAUGHTER

After sunset, most birds are prepared to get some sleep.  The volatile sulphur-crested cockatoos cease their screeching, the galahs “zip-zip” their way to bed, and even the restless flycatchers actually take a rest.

But the Masked Lapwings (vanellus miles) are always on guard, giving out alarm calls day and night. spur winged plover calling

That’s because they live and nest in open spaces where their young are always under threat.    The pair that lives near the house in the old orchard paddock were outraged a few weeks ago when a flock of sheep were pushed in to eat the grass down.  The birds ranted ineffectually for two days, angrily pacing on their long legs among the completely uninterested grazing sheep.

As a child I used to wonder at the demented calls they gave, a machine-gun cackle that carried above the midnight roar of the river over the rocks.   I pictured a large creature up in the trees or flying about, not a ground bird marching about its territory.

Now I find it soothing to hear their night calls, although I preferred it when I thought they were only laughing, not guarding.

masked lapwing closeupGeorge Roderick took these lovely pictures showing their wing spurs, which gave them the old common name of “Spur-winged Plover”.  There is an exciting popular theory that the spurs are poisonous and the birds are out to stab you with them when they run at you or swoop.  Perhaps they have some value to the bird.  Unlike chickens they don’t seem to get taken by foxes, so their defense methods may be better than you’d expect.

8 thoughts on “NIGHT LAUGHTER

  1. Love these posts!

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  2. Such an interesting post!

    Shirley

    >

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  3. kylelenglennmiller March 5, 2019 — 2:30 am

    Jeffry, My friend Fiona posts a story from time to time. Here’s one from this week. Love Kyle

    On Sun, Mar 3, 2019 at 5:29 PM One Bend In The River wrote:

    > onebendintheriver posted: “After sunset, most birds are prepared to get > some sleep. The volatile sulphur-crested cockatoos cease their screeching, > the galahs “zip-zip” their way to bed, and even the restless flycatchers > actually take a rest. But the Masked Lapwings (vanellus mile” >

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  4. kylelenglennmiller March 5, 2019 — 2:28 am

    My Dear Fiona, Oh, that is the loveliest, and most uplifting story, thank you my friend. You have been on my mind, so it was nice to hear your voice. Hope to be together soon. I’d love to see you in your element and all the birds in that part of the world sound equally intriguing. Please give my love to Craig and the kids. Love, Kyle

    On Sun, Mar 3, 2019 at 5:29 PM One Bend In The River wrote:

    > onebendintheriver posted: “After sunset, most birds are prepared to get > some sleep. The volatile sulphur-crested cockatoos cease their screeching, > the galahs “zip-zip” their way to bed, and even the restless flycatchers > actually take a rest. But the Masked Lapwings (vanellus mile” >

    Like

    1. lovely to hear from you, too, Kyle. One day you are going to have to come and see for yourself…

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  5. I was so concerned about their distressed calls during the day a couple of years ago that I went out to investigate. There was a perfectly camouflaged set of eggs , 2 defending birds and 30 or so cows in a curious circle surrounding them. I didn’t have my phone to photograph but the eggs did survive after I moved the cows to another paddock

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    1. Yes, I suspect the ones in the little paddock here had eggs or chicks as well, but actually they seem to do a good job of fending off grazing animals, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Now I think about it, the area they seemed to defend the most is the least eaten down part of the paddock.

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