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23 May, 2024
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mother's tough love

Mother’s Tough Love Choice!- Article by Gareth Jones

Mother’s Tough Love Choice – Crowned Lapwing & Its Chicks In Nairobi National Park

Several weeks ago, I noticed a bird sitting less than 2 metres from the road, it was a crowned lapwing. After stopping my vehicle for a few minutes it was observed that she was a female sitting on three eggs. Every day I noted that the same bird was always on the nest, faithfully enduring her duty to protect the eggs close to the road.

It is very unusual to find a crowned lapwing nest so exposed to the elements, especially right next to a road with daily traffic. The eggs are camouflaged in various shades of mottled brown, in a place where there is very little cover of any kind. The mottled brown pattern on the eggs does appear to help hide the eggs from the threat of predators.

Finally early one morning, I noted “two little fluffballs” with their mother; what a wonderful site! the chicks were only about a day old and their feathers still had camouflage markings on them. The weather was quite cool so they quickly huddled under the protection of their mother’s wings for warmth. Driving slowly away, I wondered about the third chick as it had not hatched yet.

The next day I returned to find that the mother and her two chicks were no longer there, and the nest was abandoned, with an empty eggshell in it, and the tiny dead body of a chick nearby. I wondered what might have happened, for the mother to have fled before the last egg hatched? Perhaps a predator, like a jackal or an eagle? But then why wasn’t the dead chick eaten? Perhaps the mother fled and the last chick died because it was exposed to the cold night air? Was this mother forced to choose between staying and escaping with the surviving chicks? We will never really know, but I hope they are safe somewhere. Perhaps the mother was forced to make a tough choice in order for her remaining chicks to survive?

Much of what happens in nature can be very harsh, the survival of the fittest. May God favour over such little families with life.

mother’s tough love choice – by Gareth Jones
mother's tough love
Gareth Jones – Nairobi Park Diary – A passionate writer & photographer

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