It’s hatching time of year for masked lapwing chicks!

Some weeks in wildlife caring are just pure joy! Last week one of our WILVOS who was working on the Bruce Highway upgrade rang to ask if I’d take four plover eggs and try to hatch them. There should be more Environment Officers like Dallas on big developments. He goes above and beyond to save any wildlife impacted upon by the human bulldozer! Ready for any wildlife challenge, I turned on the humidicrib and frantically researched all the information I had on hatching masked lapwing eggs. I’m experienced at incubating silky bantam eggs but wildlife situations usually like to test your specific knowledge.

After a quick photograph the eggs were settled in their original nest material in the humidicrib. Was that squeaking we could hear in the egg? I just hoped the temperature and humidity would be just what they needed to hatch successfully. Checking on them when getting up to feed my little gliders their 2am feed, I was delighted to see two big legs and the rear end of a chick appearing from the egg. The gliders had to wait while I surreptitiously videoed the hatching. By the time the gliders were fed, another was on the way. By sunup there were 3 bedraggled little ‘plovers’ in the nest. It was a long almost 48 hour wait for the final egg to hatch, which it did successfully. By this time I had borrowed two day-old silky chickens from my daughter, as they are very good at teaching others to scratch around and peck the ground for their food. They had all graduated to a guinea pig hutch, still coming into the humidicrib at night.

Now I have four cute fluffy masked lapwing plovers eating me out of house and home. I try to keep their diet as natural as possible and am highly entertained with the tug-of-war which ensures when they find a large earthworm in the mulch. They have a special supplemented meat mix which I initially rolled into tiny little worms and put in with the earthworms. That fooled them! Lilly pilly fruit which I had frozen from last year is enjoyed, along with greens, fruit, vegetables and canary seed. Natural grass seeds, little ground plants and hiding invertebrates are all pecked at with gusto. Their rate of growth is in tune with the amount they eat! Think of these little darlings next time a plover is ‘bombing’ you. This is the precious treasure they are protecting!