Natives call the masked lapwing the ‘spear-carrying bird’ due to the sharp yellow spurs on its wings. When intruders such as ravens or cats approach nests or chicks, the lapwing swoops in and strikes with its spurs, calling loudly.
Strikes can lead to injuries, but the wing usually heals. Lapwings also pretend to have a broken wing or leg to divert predators from their young.
The masked lapwing nests on the ground. Its brown spotted eggs and chicks are well camouflaged amongst vegetation. At hatching, the chicks are covered in down feathers. Being precocial, they can leave the nest and feed themselves within a few hours.
They freeze when in danger. Parents provide guidance – long calls mean ‘come closer’ while a single chirp every few seconds means ‘move away’.