Masked Lapwings are large, ground-dwelling birds. The upper body is light brown with top of head, sides of breast, and wing tips black. The underparts and rump are white. They have yellow facial wattles and the wings are equipped with thorny spurs that project from the wrist. They use these spurs when diving at potential predators or intruders during breeding season.
The Masked Lapwing is an aggressive bird, defending its eggs and chicks by swooping any invaders and scolding them in a loud screeching voice. This allows them to raise young in urban areas where cats, dogs, possums and rats often take eggs or chicks. Nests are often in unusual places such as roundabouts, rooftops or football ovals. The birds were once known as Spur-winged Plovers. They are not true plovers, but are related to the lapwings from other parts of the world, so the name was changed. They feed on earthworms, insects and their larvae.