Oriental pratincole

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Oriental pratincole
Glareola maldivarum - Beung Borapet.jpg
in central Thailand
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Glareolidae
Genus: Glareola
G. maldivarum
Binomial name
Glareola maldivarum
Forster, 1795
Glareola maldivarum - Oriental Pratincole

The oriental pratincole (Glareola maldivarum), also known as the grasshopper-bird or swallow-plover, is a wader in the pratincole family, Glareolidae.


The genus name is a diminutive of Latin glarea, "gravel", referring to a typical nesting habitat for pratincoles. The species name maldivarum refers to the type locality, the ocean near the Maldive Islands; the type specimen, caught alive at sea, survived for a month on flies.[2]


These birds have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails. They have short bills, which is an adaptation to aerial feeding. The back and head are brown, and the wings are brown with black flight feathers. The belly is white. The underwings are chestnut. Very good views are needed to distinguish this species from other pratincoles, such as the very similar collared pratincole, which also has a chestnut underwing, and black-winged pratincole which shares the black upperwing flight feathers and lack of a white trailing edge to the wing. These features are not always readily seen in the field, especially as the chestnut underwing appears black unless excellent views are obtained.


An unusual feature of all pratincoles is that although classed as waders they typically hunt their insect prey on the wing like swallows, although they can also feed on the ground. The oriental praticole is a bird of open country, and they are often seen near water in the evening, hawking for insects.


Their 2–3 eggs are laid on the ground.


The Oriental pratincole is native to the warmer parts of South and Southeast Asia, breeding from North Pakistan and the Kashmir region across into China and south west. It is migratory and winters in both India and Pakistan, Indonesia and Australasia.


They are rare north or west of the breeding range, but, amazingly, this species has occurred as far away as Great Britain more than once. The first record for the Western Palearctic was in Suffolk, England in June 1981.[3] On 7 February 2004, 2.5 million oriental pratincoles were recorded on Eighty Mile Beach in Australia's north-west by the Australasian Wader Studies Group. There had previously been no records of this magnitude and it is supposed that weather conditions caused much of the world's population of this species to congregate in one area.



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Glareola maldivarum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22694132A93440161. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22694132A93440161.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 174, 239. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Burns, David W. (1993) Oriental Pratincole: new to the Western Palearctic British Birds 86(3): 115–20

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