Whistle Blowers of the WildThe Lapwings, belonging to the Plover family, are found in almost all parts of the world. Lapwings are usually associated with ‘wattles’ – a meaty growth on the throat. Most Lapwings have a distinct wattle, resulting in their name.
There are four distinct Lapwing species found in India – the Red-wattled Lapwing, the Yellow-wattled Lapwing, the River Lapwing and the White-tailed (or Grey-headed) Lapwing. The Red, Grey and Yellow Lapwings are common residents at Kabini, and are found in abundance at many places in Orange County, Kabini (close to the Boat Jetty, beyond the Reading Room, on the fields while you approach Orange County, and so on).The Red-wattled Lapwings are extremely alert, yet ferocious birds, and raise a shrieking alarm call, which echoes through the forest, at the slightest sign of intrusion or trouble. Hence it is often called the Whistle Blower Bird, for its alarm calls warn all other animals of approaching intrusion by predators. As wildlife photographers, we are taught to avoid the vicinity of these birds, as their alarm calls can ruin a stalking photo session.
The Yellow-wattled Lapwings are comparatively more silent, possessing a softer call, while the Grey is a very rare and shy bird with characteristics similar to the Yellows. The River Lapwing differs in two aspects – its habitat and the color of its legs, which are often Black (all other Lapwing species possess yellow legs).Some interesting Lapwing facts:
Lapwing eggs were believed to have medicinal properties, and were used in traditional Indian Medicine for the treatment of Asthma and Typhoid, untill better sense prevailed to protect these wonderful birds and their eggs.In some of the Northern states of India, locals believe that the bird sleeps on its back, with its feet pointing up – as if supporting the sky. Rajasthani farmers believe to this day, that the hatching of the Lapwing eggs during early summer is a pointer to good rains during the monsoons.