The World’s Oldest Known Masked lapwing

Masked Lapwings are a common species in the South East of Australia. They are found nearly all around Australia parts of Papua New Guinea and from around the 1930’s have been found in New Zealand.

The adults pair for life and are well known for nesting in what would seem, not so sensible places.

However, they have a strategy of defending their eggs and chicks by diving and swooping at potential predators whether that be birds of prey, dogs, foxes or humans. Nesting in the open gives them plenty of warning of approaching danger and the ability to swoop without obstacles.

They lay four large eggs that take around 28 days to hatch and within a few hours after hatching the chicks start feeding themselves on insects. The parents just protect them from predators and keep them warm whilst their feathers are growing.

Because the chicks are not competing for the same food as if they were to be fed by their parents they grow quickly and start flying when 5 – 8 weeks old.

Lake McIntyre has several resident pairs of Masked Lapwings and recently one has been seen with a metal band on its leg. The metal band has a unique number written on it but you need to be very close to be able to read it.

In the late 90’s 4 adults and 2 chicks were banded at lake McIntyre but being so long ago it was unlikely to be one of these. So where was this individual from?

The mystery of when and where this bird was tagged was solved recently when Rosey Pounsett and Sheila Boyle tracked the bird down and managed to get very close to take a photo.

Image description: The red leg of a lapwing with a silver band around it showing an ID number

In the photograph the numbers were able to be read and the details were sent to the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS)

This individual was surprisingly banded on the 8th of November 1998 at Lake McIntyre by Adrian Boyle when it was a chick 20 years 7 months and 27 days earlier.

We don’t know how much longer this bird will live for, but we look forward to keeping track of it, hopefully over many more years.

(ABBBS) have also advised us that this is the oldest recovery of this species in Australia and almost certainly the world!

So remember, rather than being afraid and annoyed by their presence in your area – be amazed at what resilient and wonderful parents they are.

Sheila Boyle,

Chairperson, Lake McIntyre Management Committee