Monday, May 24, 2010


Killdeer (North America’s “Lapwing”) is a noisy conspicuous Plover of ploughed fields and golf courses. Although Killdeer is considered to be a “Shorebird”, She lives far from the water. The largest of the Ringed Plovers, Killdeer nests in gravelly areas, as long as it is near some water.

Killdeer has consummate parenting skills. When an intruder comes near her nest, She performs a complex “injury-feigning” display. First Mother Killdeer runs from the nest. Then She takes to the air, some distance away. If that does not work, Mother Killdeer lands, and proceeds to drag one of her wings. She does her “broken wing” display. Intrigued by this, the intruder usually follows Her away from her nest. After awhile, Mother Killdeer makes a miraculous recovery, and flies off, leaving the intruder confused.

Mother Killdeer is a smart parent. Wasting no energy or time, She knows what is effective in protecting her Chicks. Not only does Mother Killdeer have an excellent strategy, She also has a back-up plan. Learn effective parenting from Mother Killdeer.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NORTHERN LAPWING (PEE-WIT): Encounters with the Sacred

Common in Eurasia, Northern Lapwing is well-known for his haunting ethereal cry. In the lonely places of the land, the marshes and moors, you hear Him singing in his plaintive voice. According to folklore, those who hear his evocative sound, will have someone close to them die soon.

Since his wings make a lapping sound, this Wader, with rounded wings, became known as “Lapwing”. In addition because of his call, Northern Lapwing is also called “Pee-wit”. In Old English, He was called “Hleapwince”, which means “leap with a waver in it”. (This name came from his seemingly erratic flight.)

Many legends worldwide allude to Northern Lapwing’s association with holy people. According to the “Qur’an”, this Bird became a trusted confidant of King Solomon. Northern Lapwing brought news to the King about the Queen of Sheba.

Meanwhile a Swedish myth tells of Northern Lapwing being a servant of the Virgin Mary. After stealing a pair of scissors from the Virgin, she fled. When she was caught, the servant turned into a Lapwing. Even today, people could hear her crying, “Tyvil! Tyvil! I stole them.”

The Hindus speak of Lord Krishna’s mercy towards a nesting Lapwing. Just before the Battle of Kurukshetra, He heard the cries of a mother Lapwing, who had her nest on the battlefield. Lord Krishna, then, placed a huge elephant bell over her nest to protect Her and her eggs from the battle’s fury.

The Celts speak of Northern Lapwing and his wail of warning to people. There are Seven Whistlers of the Otherworlds to tell people of the world’s end. Six of them are searching for the seventh one. When they find him, the world will end. Lapwing’s cries remind people of the Whistlers.

In contrast, Ben Jonson, the English scientist noted that rash people were like “Lapwings running about with shells on their heads”. He was referring to Lapwing Chicks, who hatch with bits of eggshell on their heads. These Chicks will run about as if They are fleeing danger.

When you want the Sacred near you, listen to Northern Lapwing. His voice transcends the Heavens, allowing holiness to find Him. Follow Northern Lapwing to encounter the sacred in your life. But be careful not to be too rash, running about with a shell on your head.
Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers

Friday, May 21, 2010


The Plover family has two groupings: the Charadriinae, who are the typical Plovers, also known as “Plover” and “Dotterel”, and their close relatives, the Vanellinae, who are the crested Plovers, also called “Lapwings”. The ancient Red-kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus) is grouped with the Vanellinae.

Members of the Plover Family are swift running Birds. In addition, these wading Birds are usually found near water, whether it be a small pond or a large lake. Although, the Australian Dotterel (Desert Plover) makes her home in arid regions, She will nest along the margins of streams.

Many Plovers make shallow dirt nests out in the open. However, their eggs look like living pebbles, blending with the soil. Meanwhile, Plover Chicks, after their Parents sound the alarm that an intruder is near, will crouch motionless. Then They will draw back their heads to hide in plain sight. Although Plovers seem to be vulnerable, They have good camoflague.

These small plump Birds are often seen on open shores looking for Worms. Although Plovers are strong fliers, They usually hunt by standing alert actively watching for prey. While standing on one leg, Plovers vibrate the other one lightly on the ground. Attracting Worms by these slight movements, these Birds can easily obtain their next meal.

Among the Plover Family, American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) has one of the most spectacular migrations of any North American Bird. Flying from Arctic Canada, He first stops in Labrador, then He goes non-stop to the northern coast of South America. After resting for awhile in the region of the Amazon River Basin, American Golden Plover then flies to the Pampas of Argentina. Later when the seasons change, He does the whole trip in reverse.

A smaller Member of the Plover Family, European Dotterel is known for her trusting nature. However unlike many other Bird species, the female is the dominant sex. Bigger and more brightly coloured, Female European Dotterel initiates their courtship. After laying her eggs, She leaves her Mate to incubate them whilst She flies off to court another Male.

With their markings, Plovers often blend into the beach, where They live. Foraging for worms, They shake their feet to disguise their movements. Nesting in exposed areas, Plovers have eggs that look like stones.

Plovers demonstrate how to blend in. Call on Plovers to show you how not to be noticed. Only when They quickly run across the ground, stopping only to eat a tasty Mollusk, do you see Them.

Science Notes:
1. Magellanic Plover, Crab-plover, and Egyptian Plover are in their own groupings and are separate from the Plover Family. Crab-plovers (Dromadida) are unique amongst waders by nesting in burrows that she digs herself. Egyptian Plovers (Pluvianidae) pick leeches off the teeth of crocodiles. Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellidae) are more closely related to Sheathbills (Chionida) than Plovers.

2. These three members of the Plover Family closely resemble each other: American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica), European Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), and Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fluva). Only subtle differences can been seen between these three birds.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Review: "The Sun and The Moon", Brian McClure

The Sun and the Moon”,  Author: Brian D. McClure, Illustrated By: Buddy Plumlee, Hardcover: 36 Pages, Universal Flag, Lisle, IL, 2008

Advertised as a book for children ages from 1 to 100, “The Sun and the Moon” can be enjoyed by the entire family. One Sunday afternoon, I read the book to my assembled family. This diverse and picky group of people loved Mr. McClure’s story. Adding to their enjoyment was the ending: “We are One.”

An argument between the two old friends – the Sun and the Moon – caused the earth to freeze. Then as the two heavenly bodies began to feel out-of-sorts, they became sad. Upon hearing a sound from the earth, the Sun and the Moon saw how much the earth was suffering because of their stupid fight. Realising how they, the earth, you, and I are all interconnected, the Sun and Moon apologized to each other. Then together, they restored the earth to wholeness again.

I shall not tell you what the sound was that the Sun and the Moon heard. You will need to find that out by reading the book yourself. I shall give you a clue though -- it came from you and me.

Sitting with my child, as we looked at the illustrations, we felt that we too were a part of the story. The Sun and the Moon both looked like what we can see outside our window. Their faces of anger, sadness, and joy were done in subtle brush strokes by Mr. Plumlee. Because of his art work, we could easily connect to them and the other characters in the book.

As the illustrations help us to be a part of the story, so does the writing. Mr. McClure asks us to consider our feelings of fear. Feeling afraid, we would rather fight with each other, than remain friends. However once we realise that we are One, our fear will leave us.

As the book states, “It happened one day right out of the blue,
the Sun told the Moon he was tired and through.
"What do you mean?" the Moon asked the Sun,
"That would be the end of everything, and that wouldn’t be fun!"

Read for yourself. Better yet, read out loud for your family to hear. Even better read with a child. Enjoy the feeling of Oneness with the Universe, and the serenity that this book brings.

You can purchase this book and others directly from UniversalFlag, the author’s website, UniversalFlag