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SHOREBIRDS

Most Shorebirds walk along shores probing for food with their thin sensitive bills. Bill length varies considerably so differing species can work the same shore and obtain different food supplies. Shorebirds include sandpipers, godwits, stilts, oystercatchers, plovers, and many more. Shorebirds belong to the Charadriiformes order which also includes the Gulls and Allies.
Note: the term Shorebirds is used in the Americas; elsewhere "waders" is used. We will reserve "waders" for herons and allies.

Some Charadriiformes families:
Burhinidae: thick-knees; Charadriidae: small plovers, lapwings; Glareolidae: courses, pratincoles; Haematopodidae: oystercatchers
Jacanidae: jacanas; Recurvirostridae: avocets, stilts; Scolopacidae: small bill sandpipers, large bill sandpipers.


Coursers and Pratincoles

Order Charadriiformes   Family Glareolidae

The feature that defines the Glareolidae family from the rest of the order is the bill, which is arched and has the nostrils at the base. They have an Old World distribution, occurring in southern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Insects form the majority of their diet.
Coursers have long legs, which are used to run (giving the group its name). They feed in a plover-like fashion, running, then stopping to scan for prey before moving on. The wings are shorter and have a more sustained flight than that of the pratincoles. The coursers are typically found in open and arid environments such as deserts and scrub. The coursers are not particularly migratory.
Pratincoles have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails. They have a buoyant flight that allows them the unusual (for the order) hunting technique of taking their insect prey on the wing. They are able to capture their prey on the ground as well. They live near wetlands, rivers, estuaries and other inland waterways. The wings also allow for long migrations in some species.

Genus Cursorius
These coursers breed in warmer parts of Africa and South Asia. They have long legs, short wings and long pointed bills which curve downwards. Although classed as waders, they inhabit deserts and similar arid regions. They hunt insects by sight, pursuing them on foot.

Courser, Burchell's Cursorius rufus Found: Africa
The Burchell's Courser has dark brown upperparts, upper-breast; rufous fore-crown; gray hind-crown; rufous lower-breast, upper-belly; black between upper- and lower-belly; white lower-belly, legs.
Similar to: Temminck's Courser. Burchell's Courser has gray hind-crown; Temminck's Courser has rufous crown.
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel - Sossusvlei National Park, Namibia  2) Johann du Preez


Courser, Cream-coloured Cursorius cursor  Found: Canary Islands, north Africa, southwest Asia
The Cream-coloured Courser has sandy colored upperparts; whitish belly; gray crown and nape; black eye-stripe; white supercilium; long legs; long wings; slightly downcurved bill. They prefer open ground, preferably semi-desert.
Similar to: Somali Courser. Cream-colored Courser is lighter / sandier than Somali Courser.
Image by: 1) Dave Curtis  2) Shah Jahan - Dibba, United Arab Emirates  3) Brendan Ryan


Courser, Indian  Cursorius coromandelicus  Found: South Asia
The Indian Courser has a chestnut crown; wide black eye-line; white supercilium; rufous breast; whitish long legs.
Image by: 1, 2) J M Garg - Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India


Courser, Somali Cursorius somalensis  Found: Africa
The Somali Courser is also considered to be a subspecies of the Cream-coloured Courser. They prefer open ground, preferably semi-desert.
Similar to: Cream-colored Courser. Cream-colored Courser is lighter / sandier than Somali Courser.
Image by: 1) Steve Garvie - Buffalo Springs NP, Kenya  2) Francesco Veronesi - Kenya


Courser, Temminck's  Cursorius temminckii   Found: Africa
The Temminck's Courser has dark brown upperparts, upper-breast; rufous cap, lower-breast, upper-belly; black between upper- and lower-belly; white lower-belly, legs.
Similar to: Burchell's Courser. Burchell's Courser has gray hind-crown; Temminck's Courser has rufous crown.
Image by: 1) Steve Garvie in the Masai Mara, Kenya  2) Marcel Burkhard  3) Chandres




Genus Glareola
See also genus Stiltia for another pratincole.

Pratincole, Black-winged  Glareola nordmanni  Found: southeast Europe, southwest Asia
The Black-winged Pratincole has brown back and head; brown wings with black flight feathers, black under-wings; light buff throat with black border; white belly; short legs.
Similar to: Collared Pratincole. The Collared Pratincole has a longer tail than the Black-winged Pratincole.
Image by: 1) Marcel Holyoak - Israel 2, 3) Dave Curtis


Pratincole, Collared  Glareola pratincola  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Collared Pratincole has brown back and head; brown wings with black flight feathers, chestnut underwings; light buff throat with black border; white belly; long forked tail.
Similar to: Black-winged Pratincole. The Collared Pratincole has a longer tail than the Black-winged Pratincole.
Similar to: Oriental Pratincole. The Collared Pratincole has a longer tail than the Oriental Pratincole.
Image by: 1) Steve Garvie - Kenya  2) Werne Witte - Africa  3) Sergey Yeliseev


Pratincole, Gray  Glareola cinerea  Found: Africa
The Gray Pratincole has gray upperparts; white supercilium, throat, underparts.
Image by: 1) Seth of Rabi


Pratincole, Madagascar  Glareola ocularis  Found: Madagascar
Image by: 1) David Cook


Pratincole, Oriental Glareola maldivarum   Found: Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand
The Oriental Pratincole has brown back and head; brown wings with black flight feathers, chestnut underwings; light buff throat with black border; white belly; short red bill; black legs.
Similar to: Collared Pratincole. The Collared Pratincole has a longer tail than the Oriental Pratincole.
Image by:  1, 2) Charles Lam 


Pratincole, Rock  Glareola nuchalis  Found: Africa (near exposed rocks in moving water)
The Rock Pratincole has brownish-gray upperparts, breast; upper-belly; white lower-belly; black crown; red base of bill.
Image by: 1) David Cook - Uganda 2) Matthew Goulding - Namibia


Pratincole, Small  Glareola lactea  Found: India, western Pakistan, southeast Asia
The Small Pratincole has gray upperparts; brown head; light gray upper-breast; white lower-breast, belly, gray upper-wings with black primaries and white bars at rear edge of inner flight feathers; mainly black under-wings; white tail with black terminal triangle.
Image by: 1) Dave Curtis - India  2, 3) Sergey Yeliseev 4) Sp herp  5) JM Garg   6) Aditya Joshi



Genus Rhinoptilus
These coursers breed in warmer parts of Africa and South Asia. They have long legs, short wings and long pointed bills which curve downwards. Although classed as waders, they inhabit deserts and similar arid regions. They hunt insects by sight, pursuing them on foot.

Courser, Bronze-winged  also  Violet-tipped Courser  Rhinoptilus chalcopterus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  3) Gwendolen Tee


Courser, Jerdon's  Rhinoptilus bitorquatus  Found:
The Jerdon's Courser has two brown breast bands; blackish crown; whitish supercilium; white throat, belly.
Image by: 1) Biodiversity Library


Courser, Three-banded  Rhinoptilus cinctus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Francesco Veronesi  2, 3) Johann du Preez


Courser, Two-banded also Double-banded Courser  Rhinoptilus africanus   Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) Tom Bastin   3, 4) Dick - Tanzania  




Genus Stiltia - 1 species
See also genus Glareola for more pratincoles.

Pratincole, Australian  Stiltia isabella  Found: Australia
The breeding Australian Pratincole has sandy brown upperparts, head, neck, breast; white chin; dark brown iris; black belly; red bill with black tip; white lower eye cresent. Nonbreeding plumage is grayer.
Image by: 1, 2) Jim Glas - Adelaide Zoo  3, 4) Geoff Whalan
1, 2, 3) Breeding 4) Nonbreeding




Family Dromadidae - 1 genus
The Crab Plover may be closely related to the pratincoles, but this is debatable.

Genus Dromas- 1 species

Plover, Crab Dromas ardeola    Found: Coasts of Indian Ocean
The Crab Plover has white plumage except for black back and primary feathers of the wings. It has a massive black bill for eating crabs.
Image by: 1, 2) Tarique Sani




Family Pluvianellidae - 1 genus

Genus Pluvianellus - 1 species

Plover,_Magellanic  Pluvianellus socialis  Found: southern-most South America
The Magellanic Plover has gray upperparts; white underparts. It stomps on mud to liquify it and force out prey. Closet relatives may be sheathbills.
Image by: 1) Gunnar_Engblom  2) Dominic_Sherony  3) Michel_Gukil



Family Pluvianidae - 1 species

Genus Pluvianus - 1 species

Plover, Egyptian  Pluvianus aegyptius  Found: Africa
The Egyptian Plover has black back, crown, eye-mask, breast band; blue-gray wings; white supercilium; orange underparts; long bue-gray legs. It is a wader and breeds on sand bars.
Image by: 1) Steve Eng  - Philadelphia Zoo  2) Steve Garvie - The Gambia 3) Patricia van Casteren     4) J Verde - Gambia





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