A batch of red-wattled lapwing eggs that were rescued when the mother’s nesting site flooded have hatched.
The eggs were found submerged in water near at Al Qudra lake near Bab Al Shams in Dubai during a field study by Dubai Municipality workers.
Reza Khan, a wildlife specialist for Dubai Municipality, was part of the team that saved the eggs.
He believed this was the first time relocated eggs had successfully hatched in the region.
During a field survey of the area on May 13, Dr Khan, Dr Shamshad Alam a wildlife biologist, and Zarin Shah, a field worker, discovered an irrigation pipe had sprung a leak, creating a large puddle.
They began to fix the pipe but then saw a bird sitting in the water.
They had thought the lapwing was bathing but when it did not move they realised she was incubating her eggs.
“Possibly the mother bird could hear the piping sound of the chicks inside the eggs. So, she did not notice the eggs were partly submerged and she was instinctively sitting on eggs,” Dr Khan said.
The men managed to plug the leak but were faced with the dilemma of what to do with the eggs.
They dug a small hole and put in the eggs, then hurriedly left the site.
Often, when humans disturb a nest, the mother is scared off and refuses to return.
In this case, Dr Khan said, “before we could get 10 metres from the nest we found the female rushed towards the new nest site and settled on the eggs”.
There was still a concern the water may have harmed the incubating chicks.
“We didn’t know if the eggs would hatch successfully,” Dr Khan said.
When he returned to the spot he found that the four eggs had hatched and the chicks survived.
“We guessed that the babies were due to hatch the next morning and that is why the mother was being so protective as she could hear the piping sound. She must have panicked,” Dr Khan said.
“Her urge to be incubating was more pressing than fear for us or for the new location of eggs in a dry place. Finally, she is now the proud parent of four chicks.”
Lapwings are migratory wading birds known for their protective instinct towards their eggs and chicks.