John Dengate visited the grounds of Sydney University, where a pair of Spur-winged plovers is nesting. The parents are very protective of their two chicks, and swoop any students who come too close. However, the plovers are unlikely to cause any harm, because most of the time when they swoop they are bluffing. Often they threaten intruders by extending their wings and making a loud screeching cry, and they also try to draw potential predators away from the nest by feigning injury.
The Spur-winged plover (Vanellus miles) is so named because it has a sharp, yellow, black-tipped spur on each wing. It is also known as the Masked lapwing and Masked plover. It is a long-legged wading bird with a black head, white belly and yellow facial wattles. Plovers are found Australia-wide. The Spur-winged plover is found mainly in South and Eastern Australia.
Spur-winged plovers are ground-nesting birds, and they usually have two chicks. These birds used to migrate from Australia to Siberia, where they could nest in peace without any predators around. However, they now breed in Australia, and have to constantly defend their chicks against intruders.
What to do
Plover eggs are very well camouflaged. If there are plovers in your area, be careful not to step on the eggs or run them over with the lawn mower.
Plovers will only swoop for about three weeks, so simply stay away from them during this time.