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The Standoff

Many of us resident in T&T are familiar with (at least the sound of) Southern Lapwings. For those of us who like to go and play a little football in the afternoon run the risk of being bombarded by these noisy, seemingly always angry birds. And as with most things ubiquitous, they tend to go under the radar of most. More on this later.

Just a couple other common friends to throw in to the mix as well, Greyish Saltators are traditionally referred to as “pitch-0il” for their call – nothing else. Their distinctive voice frustrates many, as these shy birds tend to stay out of the limelight.

greyish saltator-2










Yellow-bellied Elaenias have a fancy name, and aren’t really striking yellow as might be expected – but among the family of Elaenias they really are the most yellow. Which should give you an idea of the section of the spectrum occupied by this flycatcher sub-family.

yellow bellied elaenia










Anyway, back to the Southern Lapwings. Not only are they constantly attacking us, but they are also very territorial toward each other. I sat and observed the dynamic that linked this trio of birds for quite some time. The leftmost bird is likely a female, just based on the behaviour of the other two. Wing-spurs bared, they constantly were sizing each other up, screaming and threatening one another as if their life depended on it. Well, perhaps not their life, but the future of their genes. Which is a good enough reason to enter into battle if you’re a Lapwing.

southern lapwings







My favourite part of this bird isn’t their pink wing-spurs, but that soft patch of iridescent feathers on each shoulder. Look out for it next time you see them, just don’t get too close!

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