A pair of lapwings protect their eggs from a snake

Grumeti | November 2019

We were driving along the Sabora drainage close to Sabora Tented Camp, in early November, when I noticed two distressed African wattled lapwings. They were calling loudly and shuffling around a lot with their wings extended. Upon closer inspection, we noticed a rhombic egg-eater that was next to their nest and that was slithering towards the eggs. The monogamous pair of lapwings did all they could to prevent the snake from getting any closer, but the snake seemed determined and kept moving closer to the eggs.

When it got too close to the eggs, one of the adult lapwings grabbed the snake with its beak and flew a short distance away. The snake was still close to the nest though and that lapwing was still not satisfied so it picked up the snake again and took it further away. Both lapwings continued to call loudly and to intimidate the snake now that it was a little further away from the nest.

The snake slowly slithered away, and the eggs were kept safe. Eventually, one of the adult lapwings moved back to the nest and began to incubate the eggs.

This was a great example of parental care and anti-predator behaviour, and it shows just how much effort some of these birds go to in caring for their clutch of eggs, especially considering that it takes about a full month for these African wattled lapwing eggs to hatch from when they are laid.