Wattle: a fleshy carbuncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck of (in these cases) birds.
Have you ever wondered about the role played by the wattles that some birds sport?
The White Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus albiceps) is a good example to start with as it has large, pendulous yellow wattles on its face.
I have been fortunate to see these striking birds in the Kruger National Park and surrounding areas.
It is thought that the wattles serve the dual purpose of helping to regulate the temperature of the bird and to attract potential mates – which it would, if you were ‘into’ such things!
Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) are ubiquitous in South Africa.
Their blue and red wattles contain blood vessels which, along with the bare parts on their head, apparently help to regulate their brain temperature.
A visit to the Kruger National Park would be incomplete without a sighting of the spectacular Saddle-billed Storks (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) These are the tallest storks in Africa and, while the sexes are similar in appearance, if you observe closely you might note that the females have yellow eyes, while the males not only have brown eyes but sport small yellow pendant wattles on the underside of the bill.
Perhaps these wattles are simply to look smart. I cannot find any information on any other function they may serve.