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Pratincoles and Coursers: Glareolidae

Behavior And Reproduction

During the nonbreeding season, pratincoles can be found in flocks of as many as 100 individuals. They prefer to rest either on the ground or on rocks in the middle of rivers. All the members of the flock face the same direction, into the wind. Praticoles have loud, sharp calls which they use most often during migrations or when they are disturbed at their breeding sites.

Coursers are fast runners that generally prefer to run rather than fly from danger. However, they are good fliers as well. Unlike pratincoles, coursers are generally found alone, although small flocks of no more than five to ten individuals are sometimes seen. Many coursers, particularly those in dry, desert environments, move around a great deal as suitable habitat shifts. Coursers are often diurnal, that is, active during the day, but may switch to being nocturnal, active at night, in hot weather.

Pratincoles and coursers either build nests by scraping a shallow indentation on the ground, or use no nest at all. A few species bury their eggs partially in sand. Pratincoles sometimes nest in large colonies, while coursers are solitary nesters, with each pair isolated from other pairs. Pratincoles in the Northern Hemisphere lay two to four eggs at a time. Other species lay no more than two. One species, the double-banded courser, lays only one egg at a time. Eggs are generally either white or cream-colored and marked with spots of streaks to help them blend into their environments.


Pratincoles, which generally catch insects in the air, have long wings that help them maneuver (mah-NOO-ver) during flight. Coursers, which generally catch their insects on the ground, have long legs to help them run at prey. The one species in the pratincole and courser group that hunts insects both in the air and on the ground is the Australian pratincole. The Australian pratincole has long wings as well as long legs.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsPratincoles and Coursers: Glareolidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Collared Pratincole (glareola Pratincola): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, COURSERS PRATINCOLES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS