Pratincole birds

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Pratincole with another group of birds "Coursers" are grouped together and comes under this family of Glareolidae. Some features they have in common, short legs, very long pointed wings and equally long forked tails. Pratincole too, stay mostly on the ground. Pratincole actually hunt their insect prey on wings like Swallows, then their short bills adapted for aerial feeding combined with their looks in flight similar to that of the Terns, this bird is often considered as a wader. Pratincole catches insect on their wings and also on the ground while Coursers do so on the ground.

They are crepuscular birds feeding at dawn and dusk while the warmer period of the day would be used for resting.

Pratincole is a ground bird with elongated wings that prefers arid country bird. Their preferred habitats is an open country with short-grass plains or deserts, often far from water. Pratincole moves in small flock of 60-70 birds most times. However, at certain times, the flock could get rather large like this one in the 2 pictures below where numbers ran into thousands.

Oriental Pratincole is a long distance migratory bird, breeding in northern Pakistan and wintering as far south as Australia. Gathering in large flock of tens of thousands of birds, their number was thought to be 75,000 birds. Not until February 2004, that about 2.5 million birds were recorded in the mudflats Eight Miles beach in Australia. The environment were conducive for all flocks to congregate at one single place, giving an impression as the numbers they had around the world..

With that incident of the huge numbers of Oriental Pratincole since in the mudflats, all the more that the bird Pratincole get more associated as a waders. Also confirms the habit that this birds do gather in great numbers.

Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella
Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum
Little Pratincole Glareola lactea

From the Bird List for Malaysia, I have copied out the names of the 3 Pratincole that should be available in Malaysia. So far besides the Oriental Pratincole, I have not seen any report of the sightings of the other 2 Pratincoles, perhaps with good reasons.

The Little Pratincole measuring only 17 cm breeds in Western Pakistan, though migrates are likely found in good numbers in Thailand. In Malaysia, they do not appear in large flock and as individuals could be mistaken as a Swallow.

The Australian Pratincole is a nomadic birds that moves around the various mudflats in Australia. Only in southern winter that the birds leaves for warmer land. These would be the Islands to the north among them Sulawesi and even further to southern Borneo. Much left to be seen in future whether, the bird could be spotted in Peninsula Malaysia.

Oriental Pratincole  Glareola maldivarum

 Size & diagnostic markings:- The bird at 24 cm has long pointed wings and short forked tails. The head and the upper part is brown and the under part, light brown at the upper breast and white on the belly. Bill is stout with reddish base on the lower mandible.

Distribution :-  The bird breeds in many country spread over from India eastwards to Japan and then down to Borneo and Philippines.
 Habitats & preferences:- The bird loves flat lowland open country short grasses with dried up water holes
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is most seen in disused old mining land of Bidor
 My personal jottings :- In the series of pictures No. 8-13, they showed the postures of birds seen during a courting ritual. Then picture No.7 shows a bird with "Broken" wings.

 Then in open field of batang Tiga, away from the rice field saw a small group. They wee scattered and the birds were seen as individual. But in the open fields in Pulau Indah, the population was larger. Small clusters of about 5-6 birds were foraging fairly far apart from each group. There was once particular habit of theirs, the bird would stay very still on being approached by car, almost until the last moment. A pair flew away and the male returned to attack my car.

When the bird was approached by foot, about 15 feet away, the act of pretending to be lame would be displayed.

Record of bird's calls:-    and Videos:-

Oriental Pratincole  # 1

Oriental Pratincole   # 2

Oriental Pratincole  # 3

Oriental Pratincole # 4

Oriental Pratincole   # 5

Oriental Pratincole # 6

Oriental Pratincole  # 10

Oriental Pratincole   # 11

Oriental Pratincole  # 12

Oriental Pratincole # 13

Oriental Pratincole   # 14

Oriental Pratincole # 15


non-breeding Oriental Pratincole

Sadly on the the long image posted on top of the page, the detail could not be shown. In large gathering as in this flock, it is taken when most if not all the birds are non-breeding. The birds in breeding plumage do not gather in flock but rather as individual or seen in pairs. In the images below, it took me a while to accept the fact that these are non-breeding adults. In most bird guide, the non breeding Oriental Pratincole do have a "Bib" as well. The dark border may appear faint or frayed. In these birds, there is no tell tale sign of the patch of the upper part in front of the neck and its border .

Lucky for me, among the many pictures, there was one showing the bird taking flight and the typical color of the under wing seen. That point confirms that these birds were Oriental pratincle.

 Pratincole  # 1

 Pratincole   # 2

 Pratincole  # 3

Pratincole # 4

Pratincole   # 5

 Pratincole # 6

 Pratincole   # 7

 Pratincole  # 8

 Pratincole    # 9


Like many new birders, it took me a long time locate Pratincole. Also hoping to know the location where they were last sighted and getting over there, hopefully to get my lifer. Actually, it is fairly easy to search for them. I think the important point to know the period when they will be appearing in good numbers. Next like searching in the internet, look for dry and arid open space.

There are many of disused old mining land that fits this description. The birds prefers those with grasses. Good flat land with a good vision of distant approaching subject and lined with short tuft to keep cool.

Next point to note would be the fact that on many pictures, the bird was seen to be in an odd posture. With one leg lifted up and one wing in a twisted manner. This is a ploy commonly seen in Plover when pursued or when the nesting eggs were threatened, the bird would slowly walk away, promoting an impression for onlooker that it is injured or lame. It would make no attempt to fly away but slowly and seriously "limped" away.