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Nesting Record of Red Wattled Lapwing

By Nelson Khor

Successful nesting records of the Red Wattled Lapwing are not common with the first observation only made a few years ago. This particular nest was located on an open grassy field with no cover and brood of 4 eggs was all successfully hatched.

I have been observing a pair of adults in the area over a period of 2 weeks happily photographing them. One day I found a nest quite by accident located on a pile of loose gravel in the middle of that open field. It was totally exposed to the hot sun and closer observation of the nest revealed 4 intact eggs.

All the while the 2 adult parents were circling and were getting quite agitated on my proximity to the nest and were dive bombing me so I decided to back off to a comfortable distance and took a grab shot of the nest and unhatched eggs.

After a week, I went back again to observe the progress of the nest and this time there was already a hatchling out with 3 intact eggs on the verge of coming out. I backed off to a safe distance allowing the parents to comfortably return to the nest. What I then observed was quite extraordinary Ė the parent Lapwing was peeling away the egg shell with itís beak helping the emerging chick on itís transition out into the world. The action involved gentle pecking of the egg with the beak and then chucking away each piece. When the chick emerged, the parent grabbed the egg shell and flew away disposing the shell elsewhere as though to dispose evidence of a nest.

Amazingly all this while, there was an entire herd of cows walking all over the field and it was miraculous that the nest and young were not trampled over (on a related note, it is perhaps lucky that cows are vegetarians). There were also a few stray dogs nearby but they failed to detect the Lapwing nest.

The chick was lying very still immediately after coming out as it was still wet. However after only 1 or 2 hours, the chick dried up enough to go walking out of the nest. The parents were calling for it encouraging it to wander out of the nest and it duly complied. They were also feeding it but I could not capture any shots of the parents feeding the young.

After another week, I went back again and was pleased to see that all 4 chicks were doing well running all over the field but they were still incapable of flight. They were however capable of avoiding potential threats by running away, staying low out of sight, helped by fairly good camouflage. The chick by this time has fluffy feathers and had already started developing some colorations especially brown wing feathers and a black neck.

The parents were still taking care of the 4 chicks and played guardians nearby while the chicks freely roamed the open field.

After about a month, the 4 chicks were still observed in the vicinity and were now capable of feeding themselves by picking worms from the ground. Shortly after a month, they were no longer there and I think that they were successful in taking flight. The parents were still resident in this area. However, after about 2-3 months, I observed what looks like a single juvenile reaching adulthood and I have a strong feeling that this individual was 1 out of the 4 chicks.

The End