You gotta love a plover

The Husband now has the perfect excuse not to mow the grass at the far end of our backyard.

Mr & Mrs Masked Plover (or more commonly, Masked Lapwing) have set up house in the longer grass down there. They’re silly birds, and will lay their eggs on playing fields, football pitches, carparks and airport runways, without a thought to the potential danger of predators or environmental hazards. More detail than you’ll ever need to know about them can be found on Wikipedia, here.

Mrs Plover on the nest

That’s Australia’s No. 1 Highway 4 metres away on the other side of the fence….

We only discovered this fact when the Husband drove the ride-on mower down to the end and was dive-bombed by Mr Plover. Both male and female are notoriously aggressive during the breeding season, not quite as bad as the Australian Magpie, but loud, hostile and prone to attack. The males especially are a bit of a hazard, as they have a ‘spur’ on the major joint on the leading edge of their wings, and these can inflict painful damage.

Future plovers...While they were briefly away from home, I took my life in my hands and scooted out with the camera to capture the nest and eggs, more a slightly bare patch in the grass than any sort of formal structure. Three eggs so far, four is a normal clutch, so there may be another. While I was taking the photo, the pair were yelling and displaying aggressively at me from the next door garden, so I left it at one photo taken from a distance with lots of zoom, and retreated. Mrs Plover immediately flew back in and settled down, and Mr Plover stalked around crossly, squarking at me.

I tremble for their babies, as we have a lot of birds of prey, crows and other flying meat-eaters in this area. Still, we’ll let the grass down there grow till the babies can walk and run and feed themselves. The longer the grass, the better the cover.

It could be a couple of months. The grass is going to be waist high…

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37 thoughts on “You gotta love a plover

  1. Hurrah for the Husband!

  2. I suppose it’s a mixed blessing, but if you can avoid grass cutting… 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      Luckily it’s down the far end of the back yard, an area we don’t really need to mow as much as the parts closer to the house. It’ll be tricky reducing the overgrowth once the birds have gone, but neither of us wants to disturb the nest.

  3. Clare says:

    Can’t wait to see the babies! Keep us posted.

    • katechiconi says:

      I hope we get a chance to capture an image before the parents hustle them away safely. If I do, they’ll be cute little brown spotted balls of fluff with long legs.

  4. knitnkwilt says:

    This pair wasn’t so dumb; they found a friendly spot.

    • katechiconi says:

      If they’d just built a nest but hadn’t laid, we’d have encouraged them to move on. It’s not as if there’s much labour involved in nest building! However, with eggs already being sat on, we couldn’t in conscience shoo them away.

  5. It’ll be an interesting wait. Looking at your top photo, is that a river or canal the other side of the road?

  6. tialys says:

    What a perfect excuse for not mowing the lawn. I need a similar one for not doing the vacuuming.
    My cats would have a field day.

    • katechiconi says:

      Mr Plover would give your cats something to think about, I suspect. He seems to have no fear! Perhaps you could arrange for a mouse’s nest in the carpet somewhere…?

  7. rutigt says:

    better be careful and let the birds have it there way 🙂 But I can´t help wondering….if they protect their nest so wildly and aggressive, why don´t they build it in a place where they will have less enemies 🙂 ?

  8. dayphoto says:

    OH! How delightful for you! We will enjoy the process as the babies start to hatch. YAY!

    Linda

  9. Conor Bofin says:

    Thanks for the great excuse. Plovers. Yes, plovers in the grass….
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Dublin, Ireland,
    Conor

  10. nanacathy2 says:

    Fantastic story, and so glad you are letting them stay!

    • katechiconi says:

      You really can’t just mow straight over a nest full of eggs, can you… Not that the silly birds are at all endangered, they’re as common as sparrows, noisy and phenomenally stupid. How they manage to survive given their nesting habits is a bit of a miracle.

  11. EllaDee says:

    And yet, despite the apparent arbitrariness of their choices the chicks do make it. I saw plover chicks this year on a busyish street in Newtown… it was a stinking hot day and the parents had relocated them to a water leak in a gutter. Thanks to your kindness, these guys have a chance 😊

  12. What a delightful experience you are having. Lets hope the babies thrive in the open where they are. I would avoid cutting the grass to give them a chance too. Your hubby has a great heart. Of course. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this with us.

  13. Kirsten says:

    Exciting and terrifying at the same time. I do hope that the grass protects the little babies until they can fend for themselves. Fingers crossed.

    • katechiconi says:

      It will be a jungle sooner than anyone thinks possible due to the weather: lots of rain, then lots of sun. I am more worried about being dive bombed myself…

      • Kirsten says:

        Hmm, yes, they do seem to be a bit aggressive, a bit like swans. There are a nesting pair on the canal at the moment and I am always a bit wary of them because you just never know. Unlike the slightly dim Coots who like to chirp at you from the water, the grass or waddle across the cycle path in front on you . . .

      • katechiconi says:

        The Husband has a plan to mow a closer circle around the nest, but it involves me following the ride on mower around with an eye on the sky and a straw broom in my hands. I’m not greatly in favour, as I’d be the one getting scratched!

  14. Jen Gardener says:

    They’re lucky they chose your backyard!

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