Collared pratincole

Collared pratincole
Glareola pratincola

Photo by Christodoulos Makris (Trek Nature)

Common name:
collared pratincole (en); perdiz-do-mar-comum (pt); glaréole à collier (fr); canastera común (es); rotflügel-brachschwalbe (de)

Order Charadriiformes
Family Glareolidae

This species is found breeding around the Mediterranean, through the Middle East into central Asia as far east as Kazakhstan, western China and north-western India, and also in scattered areas in Africa, including various wetlands within the Sahel belt, along the Congo river basin, along the Okawango river and on the north-eastern coast of South Africa. Most populations in sub-Saharan Africa are resident, while the population in northern Africa, southern Europe and Asia migrate to winter in the Sahel and along East Africa down to eastern South Africa.

These birds are 22-28 cm long and have a wingspan of 60-70 cm. They weigh 70-95 g.

The collared pratincole is mostly found in grasslands and steppes, favouring areas near water, especially the margins of alkaline lakes, saltpans and dried mudflats, but also in recently burnt open ground, overgrazed grassland, alkaline flats and sandflats usually along the edges of larger rivers and estuaries. They can also be found foraging on rice fields, coastal scrublands and even on oasis in deserts during migration. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.200m.

Collared pratincoles junt at dawn and dusk  or on moonlight nights, catching prey aerially, or pouncing on small invertebrates on the ground. They prey includes insects such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, termites, dragonflies, moths and butterflies, ant-lions and flies, as well as spiders and molluscs.

The breeding season varies greatly between different parts of their range. They are monogamous and usually loosely colonial. The nest is a shallow depression or hoofprint in the ground, either in soil, gravel or dead vegetation, typically near water on open and flat expanses of mud. There the female lays 1-3 white or yellowish eggs with brown and grey blotches. The eggs are incubated by both sexes for 17-19 days and the chicks leave the nest within 2-3 days of hatching. They are cared for by both parents, fledging at about 25-30 days of age.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
The collared pratincole has a very large breeding range. There is no reliable information regarding its global population size and the overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends. Although not threatened at present, this species is negatively influenced by the use of herbicides and insecticides, and by changes to its preferred habitats, namely changes in water levels, ploughing of grasslands, artificial irrigation and fertilisation, changes in traditional grazing regimes, increasing urban encroachment and human disturbance.

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