Although the great and immense Patagonia is often associated with silence, some say that silence isn’t complete without the shrill cry of the Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), a piercing kradeeeeer, kradeeeeer, kradeeeeer. In Spanish, the bird is known as Tero, Teru or Teru-Teru, and it’s found throughout central and southern Chile. During breeding season they travel in pairs and threes and form large flocks in non-breeding seasons.
Lapwings are abundant in the future Patagonia National Park and can be spotted circling in the air and walking through the short grasses. They’re also found in open country, fields, pastures, mudflats, lakeshores, estuaries and even in urban parks and soccer fields. They eat insects, raw meat, and vegetables and often help control agriculture plagues.
In terms of appearance, lapwings are stocky birds with large heads and short tails. Their faces, necks and part of their chests are black; the black on their faces and throats bordered by white, the crown of their heads gray. In stark contrast, their bodies are a glossy olive-green, the shoulders slightly bronze, and the belly smooth and white.
When in flight, the lapwings’ broad, rounded wings are most notable for the red spurs found at the ‘wrist’ area, which can be used in combat or for protecting their nests. As soon as they sense danger or spot an intruder, they shriek frantically and fly farther and farther away, leading the predator away from the true site of the nest. Another method they use is to circle slowly away from the nest, pretending to be hurt and unable to fly well.
Of all the birds you’re sure to spot at the park, the lapwing is by far one of the most astute and loudest. Just take care not to disturb their nests!