Masked Lapwing

posted in: Exotics, Species | 1

On 8th July 2006 KC Tsang came across three lapwings, two adults and a juvenile, at the Singapore Zoological Garden’s Rhino enclosure. Originally thought to be Yellow-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus malabaricus), it was later identified as Masked Lapwing (V. miles) by Mal Jenkins via the internet.

Apparently the English common name, Yellow-wattled Lapwing has been used for both V. malabaricus and (less commonly) for V. miles. Thus the resulting confusion.

Jeremy Lee wrote: “I remember seeing them as well last year. As you get into the zoo and walk straight towards the amphitheater, there is an open patch of turfed land on the right. I saw a pair walking there last year.”

Richard Hale added; “Oh dear. I omitted to report these three which I saw at the zoo car park on 1st March. What fascinated me was that as they walked on the shortish grass one foot was put forward to shake the grass ahead and presumably to stir up any insects lurking there. It was slow progress but seemed to work well as they got plenty to eat. Actually I had assumed they were part of the zoo.”

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to say: “These are actually Masked Lapwings from Australia. They were originally kept in animal enclosures at the zoo and the first batch escaped some years back when a tree fell onto the Pygmy Hippo enclosure, creating an opening. These birds were then seen at Lower Peirce, MacRitchie, Mandai Orchid Garden, Orchid Country Club, etc. Over the years they have become regular free-ranging species to be seen at the zoo and it’s surroundings, and occasionally elsewhere. They have not bred or established themselves as a feral species. The only true Peninsula Malaysian record of a Yellow-wattled Lapwing was of one bird with golden plovers at the campus of University Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 8th, 1979.”

Our thanks to KC Tsang, Jeremy Lee, Richard Hale and R Subaraj for their input. Image by KC.

  1. K.P. Sim

    I guess it is not too late to follow up on this report of Masked Lapwing after six years since it was observed outside of the zoo.
    I am pleased to report that the Masked Lapwing population in Singapore has increased. I spotted a group of 15-18 in a flock along the stretch of Sungei Bedok. I see them regularly now in groups of 2s, 4s, 10s and flying single around that vicinity. I have also taken a number of photographs when they are feeding on the ground or in-flight.
    I am excited to see them establishing a small population here away from their native AU/NZ homes. I am glad also to see juveniles flying among the flocks.

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