Monday, August 3, 2009

Masked Lapwing Chicks

Signs of winters end are becoming quite evident around here. Blue skies seem to be prevailing more then the forecasted rain, lambing season is very much under way, and we're spotting lots of chicks on our walks now as well! In the picture to the left is a fuzzy little masked lapwing chick. You can only see him from behind and he's ducking under a bit of chain link fencing, but I promise he's there. These little chicks are downright adorable compared to some baby birds. Let's be honest, most birds are born stark raving naked, blind, and um.. er.. ugly.

This picture may be a tiny big blurry, but you can clearly see the size of the chick in this one. Check out his long legs and slightly webbed feet! These little fellows tend to hang out near water, but are most certainly land dwellers, think Killdeer for those of you in America. They are often hanging out in the grassy areas down by the beaches and are pretty territorial too. He will, of course, grow into those legs, but even his parents seem to have really long slender legs.

This is the same bird as above, just to put it in focus as to how tiny they really are. These little fellows are born ready to roll, and are up and feeding themselves in a matter of hours! Apparently predigested worms just aren't their thing, can't say as I truly blame them, can you?

Unfortunately you can't see the spurs these adults are armed with, but you can see his long legs! You can also tell why he's called a Masked Lawping, and believe it or not he's got waddles hanging down by his beak on each side as well. These protective parents will call out quickly when they feel danger is near and the little chicks hunker down into the grass looking for all the world like rocks. Then one of the parents will take the air and dive bomb (seriously) whatever they feel is the impending danger. For us, that usually means they go for Buster, who really could care less as they've never truly pecked him. They did, however, go after the handsome photographer who risked eyes, legs, and arms to get these photos!

We actually spotted these little chicks because of the parents attack modes. We noticed they were being overly protective of their stretch of grass and we stopped to see why, that's when we spotted the chicks. We've since spotted a total of 4 nesting areas, all though after a wicked storm last night one set of parents looked a tad distressed and we couldn't see any signs of their little chicks. They may have been well hidden though as one of the parents still came after Buster when we passed them. We had hoped to spot a bit of the empty egg shells (if the chicks hadn't eaten them), but we've had no luck with that. Mind you the shells are a mottled brown and that would make them difficult to find in all the mud right now..

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