Glareola isabella Vieillot, 1816, Australasia. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Australian courser, long-legged pratincole, isabelline pratincole; French: Glarйole isabelle; German: Stelzenbrachschwalbe; Spanish: Canastera Patilarga.
7.5–8.7 in (19–22 cm); about 2.3 oz (about 65 g). Slender and elegant with long legs and exceptionally long, pointed wings. Mostly light brown, paler on neck, with dark brown upper belly and white lower belly. Looks like a long-winged courser with a pratincole’s head. Bill bright red at base. Rump white.
Breeds over much of inland and northern Australia. Nonbreeding birds migrate to extreme northern Australia, New Guinea, and eastern Indonesia.
Breeds in arid stony country or on short-grass plains, usually within a mile (1.6 km) or so of water; less often on shorelines of inland lakes and pans. Non-breeding birds occur on airfields, grassy plains, and fallow fields.
Usually gregarious, but sometimes solitary. Highly migratory in flocks that fly high with sweet, penetrating calls. Flight very light and tern-like. Runs swiftly on ground. Usually silent at breeding sites.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Catches insect prey by running pursuit on ground or in flight. On ground uses a wing to stop prey from escaping. May also feed on non-flying arthropods and some seeds. Drinks often, especially in hot weather.
Nests solitarily or in small, loose groups on open shorelines and semi-desert plains, usually within a mile (1.6 km) of water. Two eggs are laid on bare soil, sometimes with a ring of small stones, droppings, or dry plant fragments around the site. Both parents incubate for about 20 days. Chicks are precocial, but are fed by parents for about a month. Between feedings, chicks hidden under shrubs or in shallow burrows. Young fly at about five weeks.
Common to abundant throughout range; not threatened.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
May be hunted for food in Indonesia.
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