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An eagle's nictitating membrane

Published 28 May 2017 by Annie Mayo

While recently pulling out unwanted fences near a bore drain at Hamelin Station Reserve in WA, Ian and I noticed a pair of Banded Lapwings with an unfledged chick.

Ian took a couple of photos, but because he adheres to BirdLife Photography’s ethical standards, he kept a good distance away to prevent disturbing the little family. As a result the photos of the chick aren’t too good!

A couple of days later we were birding in the same area when a Wedge-tailed Eagle came down for a drink. After satisfying its thirst it decided to fly into a low tree adjacent to where the Banded Lapwings were.

Unsurprisingly they didn’t take too kindly to having a large bird of prey so close to their offspring and began noisily swooping.

Ian caught a shot of the Wedge-tailed ducking the Lapwing with Wedge-tail’s nictitating membrane on show.

This is an ‘extra’ eyelid some birds have to protect their eyes while still allowing them some vision.

Unfortunately we didn’t see the Banded Lapwing family again. We don’t believe they could have moved the chick since it would have been unable to fly.

It possibly became prey for one of the many raptors that frequented the bore drain and the parents simply moved on.

Photo: Ian Mayo Photo: Ian Mayo
Photo: Ian Mayo Photo: Ian Mayo

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