(2128) Lobipluvia malabarica.
THE YELLOW-WATTLED LAPWING.
Charadrius malabaricus Bodd., Pl. Enlum., p. 53 (1783) (Malabar coast). Sarciophorus malabaricus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 226.
Vernacular names. Zirdi (Hind.); Jithiri (N. W. Provinces); Chitawa (Tel.) ; Al-kati (Tam.).
Description. Line between wattles on forehead and crown black, surrounded by a whitish line; back, scapulars, wing-coverts and innermost secondaries light brown; upper tail-coverts and tail white with a broad black subterminal band, absent on the outermost pair of feathers and represented by two small black patches on the next pair, central tail-feathers with brown tips and brown edge to the black band ; primaries black, the first three with white inner halves to the inner webs; outer secondaries white with a black tip, this decreasing until the central secondaries are all white; greater coverts white; primary coverts black; chin and upper throat black; neck all round paler brown than the back, darkening on the breast and with a black line dividing it from the white lower breast, abdomen, flanks and under tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris white to silver-grey or pale lemon-yellow ; bill black, the base and gape yellow, or greenish-yellow ; legs and feet bright yellow.
Measurements. Wing 184 to 202 mm.; tail 80 to 89 mm.; tarsus about 55 to 61 mm.; culmen 26 to 28 mm.
Young birds are pale sandy-brown above, narrowly barred with rather darker brown; chin albescent, throat and upper breast pale brown with faint traces of darker brown marks.
Distribution. All India and Ceylon, as far North-West as Lower Sind but not in Upper Sind or the Trans-Indus area. East it extends as far as Calcutta and Dacca.
Nidification. The Yellow-wattled Lapwing breeds from March to the end of June, laying three or four eggs in a depression scratched in the soil by the birds themselves. The site is always one in open country, fields, barren land, semi-desert or even ploughed fields but, preferably, not far from water. In the Southern Bombay Presidency, Malabar and Travancore they are extremely common and here Mr. J. Stewart found them breeding in great numbers along the coast-line, round about the lakes and also ail along the strip of open laterite country which runs down parallel with the same coast. The eggs of this bird form one of the most startling instances of adaptation to environment. The common type of egg laid all over India is merely a small edition of the eggs of Lobivanellus and Hoplopterus but all along the strip of red laterite soil, extending for many miles North and South, the ground-colour of the eggs is a bright brick-pink, exactly the same in colour as that of the soil on which they are laid, the bold black specks and spots resembling the black nodules which lie scattered everywhere on the red laterite. Stewart found that practically without exception the dark eggs were laid on dark soil, whilst the red ones were deposited on the red laterite. Eggs which were laid on the wrong soil showed up in startling contrast to it and could not long escape the eyes of the vermin which swarm everywhere in India. On the contrary, the red eggs were so invisible on the red soil that it was not until Stewart instituted an organised search for them that he had any idea how common they were, though so difficult to find. Two hundred eggs average 36.4 x 26.9 mm.: maxima 42.8 X 26.0 and 37.0 x 38.5 mm.; minima 32.0 x 24.4 mm.
Habits. This Lapwing keeps much to dry and open land and, though it is more common on the Malabar coast than anywhere else, even there it keeps to the drier areas and is not to be found in the heavily-forested country. The vicinity of water does not seem a necessity and it seldom or never haunts the beds of streams like the Red-wattled and Spur-winged Plovers so often do. In flight, food and voice it is very similar to the Red-wattled Lapwing.