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Burchell's Courser Cursorius rufus
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Trend justification
The overall trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is locally nomadic (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) although few details are known about its movements (Hockey et al. 2005). It nests in solitary pairs (Hockey et al. 2005) with breeding peaking in the dry season just before the rains (between August and December) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Outside of the breeding season the species occurs in pairs or small loose flocks of up to 10 individuals (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat It inhabits open short-sward grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996), dry savannas (Hayman et al. 1986), fallow fields, overgrazed or burnt grasslands and pastures, bare or sparsely vegetated sandy or gravelly deserts (del Hoyo et al. 1996), stony areas dotted with small shrubs (Urban et al. 1986) and saltpans (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of insects such as harvester termites Hodotermes mossambicus (del Hoyo et al. 1996), larval Lepidoptera, beetles, weevils and ants (Hockey et al. 2005), but it will also occasionally take seeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site The eggs are laid directly onto bare ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996), sometimes between grass tufts (Hockey et al. 2005) or on small cleared patches of soil ringed with pieces of dried plant material, animal droppings and small stones (Urban et al. 1986).

The species is threatened in the south of its range by habitat degradation as a result of poor grazing practices (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and agricultural intensification (especially irrigation and the increased use of pesticides) (Hockey et al. 2005). It is also threatened by disturbance from domestic livestock (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Cursorius rufus. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Glareolidae (Coursers, Pratincoles)
Species name author Gould, 1837
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,390,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change