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.
Mohamed says the “maghzal” is the hook on the end of the stick traditionally used for spinning wool or cotton into thread. 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 this picture:
“Abu Maghazil” may mean “Father of Hooks,” but another translation might be “Father of Alarm Clocks.” If you think the rooster already has this title, you haven’t heard anything yet! Lucky you! These guys stand guard anxiously awaiting the tiniest crack of dawn. That looks like pitch black to me, but not to them. It obviously 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, 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!” These guys are so good at what they do, you soon lose your sleep, but you gain a real appreciation for bird hunting!
It’s not like anyone around here is in need of an alarm clock, either. My husband and I, like most Muslims, and farmers of any persuasion, usually awaken at dawn. The first call to prayer loudly broadcasts from the nearby mosques, coinciding in summertime with Abu Maghazil’s glee. But prior to the actual “adhan,” or call to prayer, the broadcast begins 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, and I greatly prefer it over “Abu Maghazil Vocals” anytime!
Honestly, I like these beautiful birds, despite their dawn cacophony, and 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 about a half meter between each other. Then, with the wind blowing in their faces, they jump off 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!