The Masked Lapwing - Vanellus miles - is grey-brown above, white below. Prominent yellow facial wattles extend behind the eye. Crown, flight feathers, back of neck are black; the black area extends down the aside of the breast in the southern version. Pink legs. Wing spurs present. Grows to 30-37 centimetres long.
A large, conspicuous, noisy and often aggressive plover. Bold enough to claim suburban parks and gardens as its territory. In pairs or small family groups during breeding season; at other times in large flocks numbering up to several hundred. When feeding, stalks slowly and deliberately with the body horizontal, dipping and stabbing at prey. When alert, stands upright. The call is loud and often heard at night.
Noisy early in the nesting season. Eggs are laid in a scraped area on the ground. The sitting bird may attempt to decoy intruders by running away from the nesting site or birds may dive on intruders at times striking with wing spurs. The alarm cry is loud and persistent.
There are two versions. Race miles, found north of the Mackay region, has a small black cap on the head, large yellow facial wattles and all-white neck and breast. Race novaehollandiae, found south of the Mackay area, has small wattles and the black cap extends down the neck and onto the side of the breast.