Australian Bush Birds
Masked Lapwing, Spur-wing Plover  -  Vanellus miles
Masked Lapwing with yellow wattles on either side of the beak and black areas on the head and neck. The Entrance, NSW.
Masked Lapwing Masked Lapwing
Left; Lapwing from southern parts with black extending from the head down the sides of the breast.
Right; Lapwing from the Northern Territory with black area restricted to the top of the head.
map map The Masked Lapwing - Vanellus miles - is grey-brown above, white below. Prominent yellow facial wattles extend behind the eye. Crown, flight feathers, back of neck are black; the black area extends down the aside of the breast in the southern version. Pink legs. Wing spurs present. Grows to 30-37 centimetres long.

A large, conspicuous, noisy and often aggressive plover. Bold enough to claim suburban parks and gardens as its territory. In pairs or small family groups during breeding season; at other times in large flocks numbering up to several hundred. When feeding, stalks slowly and deliberately with the body horizontal, dipping and stabbing at prey. When alert, stands upright. The call is loud and often heard at night.

Noisy early in the nesting season. Eggs are laid in a scraped area on the ground. The sitting bird may attempt to decoy intruders by running away from the nesting site or birds may dive on intruders at times striking with wing spurs. The alarm cry is loud and persistent.

There are two versions. Race miles, found north of the Mackay region, has a small black cap on the head, large yellow facial wattles and all-white neck and breast. Race novaehollandiae, found south of the Mackay area, has small wattles and the black cap extends down the neck and onto the side of the breast.

Masked Lapwing - page 2
The two subspecies or races overlap and interbreed so that many birds have intermediate characteristics with various size wattles and varying amounts of black on the sides of the neck.

For many years the two variants were thought to be different species and the southern version was called the "Spur-wing Plover". Now both names are used.

Lives in short-grass sites, natural and urban, often beside waters of swamps, lagoons, lakes and salt marsh. Found around much of non-arid Australia, breeds in the north and east. May have benefited from provision of dams and clearing for agriculture.