Birds – Cayenne Lapwing

Closely allied, indeed sometimes placed in the same genus, is the Cayenne Lapwing (Belonopterus cayennensis) of northern South America, where, from its oft-repeated cry, it is also known as the Teru-teru. It is slightly larger and has a large reddish spine on the wing, but is otherwise quite similar to the European Lapwing. It is a resident and exceedingly abundant species on the great pampas, its rather pied plumage, red legs, crimson irides, rosy black-tipped bill, and coral-red wing-spurs making it a noticeable bird. It is of a spirited, aggressive disposition, a veritable tyrant among birds, and is engaged in constant warfare against most living creatures, “its special abhorrence being men, dogs, Rheas, and birds of prey generally.” They usually pair for life and become so much attached to one spot that they absolutely refuse to be driven out even when the ground is turned up by the plow, swept by the parching dust-storms of summer or the cold gales of winter. Yet they are withal birds of undoubted joyous spirits, and Mr. Hudson has given a very entertaining account of a curious march that they are constantly indulging in. One bird leaving its mate flies to the vicinity of another pair, who “welcome it with notes and signs of manifest pleasure. Advancing to the visitor, they place themselves behind it, and then all three, keeping step, begin a rapid march, uttering loud drumming and rhythmical notes at regular intervals. The march ceases, the leader stretches out his wings, still emitting loud notes, while the other two, with puffed-out plumage, standing exactly abreast, stoop forward until the tips of their beaks touch the ground, and, sinking their voices to a murmur, remain for some time in this singular position. The performance is then over; the birds all resume their natural attitudes, and the visitor takes his leave.” The nest is a shallow, circular hollow on the level plain and lined with a few grass stems; the eggs, four in number, are olive-green spotted with black. The old birds are very ingenious in diverting attention from the nest, sometimes trying to intimidate the enemy by loud cries and violent dashes; again feigning lameness or injury, or running a little distance from the real nest, they appear to arrange an imaginary nest. Two other species of this genus are also found in southern South America.