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Birds of Egypt: "Abu Maghazil," The Spur-Winged Lapwing

In Egypt, the name of this beautiful bird is, "Abu Maghazil," or "Father of Hooks." His official name is "Spur-Winged Lapwing," or "Vanellus spinosus," in the family of "Charadriidae." He is named for a sharp spur hiding in each wing, which he uses for defense.

My husband, Mohamed, says the Egyptian word "maghzal" refers to the hook on the end of the stick traditionally used for spinning wool or cotton into thread. When he told me this, I immediately imagined an ancient Egyptian using Abu Maghazil's hook-shaped spur for the earliest spinning of sheep's wool into thread for the weaving looms, and I could be right as you can see in the picture at this link:

Although "Abu Maghazil" may mean "Father of Hooks," another translation might be "Father of Alarm Clocks." If you think the rooster already owns this title, you haven't heard anything yet! Lucky you!

These guys stand guard anxiously awaiting the earliest rays dawn, which clearly looks like a glorious green light to them. Ranged on the roof of the 5-story chicken farm 50 meters from my window, they explode raucously, competing for the "Loudest, Most Obnoxious Bird On Earth" award.

And they don't explode in unison, no – they sound like your worst nightmare of "whack-a-mole," each one jumping up and screeching to fill the sky with "EEE-ee! EEE-ee!" and not one of them is keeping time with the other. It's like a million screeching ping-pong balls falling out of the sky and landing on the ping-pong table beside your head. Landing and bouncing in perpetually staggered waves for maximum un-uniformity: "EEE-ee! EEE-ee!" "EEE-ee! EEE-ee!" "EEE-ee! EEE-ee!" "EEE-ee! EEE-ee!" "EEE-ee! EEE-ee!"

It's not like anyone around here is in need of an alarm clock, either. My husband and I, like most Muslims, and Egyptian farmers of any persuasion, usually awaken at dawn. The first call to prayer loudly broadcasts from the nearby mosques, and in the summertime, this very often signals the coming onslaught of Abu Maghazil's glee.

Prior to the actual "adhan," or call to prayer, the broadcast begins about half an hour earlier, faintly audible, and gradually increasing in volume. The playlist is usually melodic Quran recitation and an Islamic genre my husband terms "Sufi Vocals."

It's quite peaceful and inspirational, although I don't understand any of it. At any rate, I greatly prefer it over "Abu Maghazil Vocals" anytime!

To be honest, I like these beautiful birds, despite their dawn cacophony, and I enjoy their arrival every year in spring. In the early evenings, they return to their guard posts on the edge of the chicken farm roof, spacing uniformly apart with about a half of a meter between each other.

Then, with the wind blowing in their faces, they jump off the roof and hang suspended in the air with wings outstretched, exactly as if they are windsurfing!

Sitting on our rooftop, it's very enjoyable watching them windsurf against the backdrop of a gorgeous Egyptian sunset. I imagine they're eating mosquitos as they surf, but I'm not sure. The arrival of mosquitoes directly after sunset always prompts my hasty departure.

I'm such a wuss, I hate mosquitoes!


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Aisha (formerly Kathleen) Abdelhamid is a syndicated writer for, and, members of Important Media Network. is a retired Computer Engineer with the U.S. Dept. of Defense, where she worked as an Interactive Multimedia Training Author and Graphic Artist. Her latest work published in this field was commissioned by the U.S. Congress as mandatory training for all new enlistees of all branches of U.S. Military, entitled, "Personal Financial Management," hosted by Mr. Ronnie Lott, former NFL football star. In her personal life, Aisha is an American woman who flushed 20 years of marriage to a mean, drunk, 'wasp' (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) in favor of an incredibly loving Egyptian Muslim man she met online. They married in Egypt after 50 days of correspondence, and less than 24 hours after their 1st meeting. She's using her binders of printed emails as posts on her blog, "Aisha's Oasis." ( Readers are enjoying the whirlwind excitement of an internet romance that went right, and sharing in her new, exciting life in Egypt.

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