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Ligabue Magazine n° 78
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An Italian Cavalier

Text by:
Fulco Pratesi

Images:
Archivio Panda Foto

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In English it's called a "blackwinged stilt", in German a "stelzenläufer" (a runner on stilts), in French "echasse blanche" (white wader) and in Spanish "cigueñuela" (little stork): all names which, more or less, refer to the bird's physical features.
In Italy, for some unknown reason, we call it a "Cavalier d'Italia". As I say, we do not know where the name came from but there is no denying that it is immensely appropriate to the image of this marsh bird with black wings, pure white body and long coral-coloured legs, which scientists known as "Himantopus himantopus".
In fact ornithologists have long racked their brains to discover the origin of the name; but in my opinion, they are wasting their time: it's enough just to look at it, to admire its austerely majestic gait as it wades carefully through the brackish lagoon waters it prefers as a habitat, to appreciate the contrast between the red of the legs, the white of the body and the black-green iridescence of the wings: no other name could possibly suit this migrant bird as well.

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Ligabue Magazine 7

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