Family Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)

Least Concern

Burchell's Courser (Cursorius rufus)


French: Courvite de Burchell German: Rostrennvogel Spanish: Corredor rufo

Cursorius rufus


, 1837,

islands in Indian Ocean; error = Potchefstroom, North West Province, South Africa


Closely related to C. cursor, C. somalensis, C. temminckii and C. coromandelicus, although last two taxa may represent a separate group. Has been regarded as conspecific with C. cursor. Proposed race theresae not generally recognized, as coloration too individually variable. Monotypic.


S Africa, mainly in drier regions, from SW Angola through most of Namibia and Kalahari Basin of Botswana to Western Cape, Karoo and high plateau of South Africa.

Descriptive notes

20–22 cm; c. 75 g. Above mainly pale rufous-brown, including upperwing-coverts; forecrown sandy rust, merging into blue-grey hindcrown, bordered below by black-white-... read more


Three different vocalizations described, namely a single, hoarse “chuk” when bird takes off, a more... read more


Open short-grass plains, sparse fallow fields, overgrazed and burnt grassland and pastures, bare or... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, especially harvester termites (Hodotermes mossambicus). Takes prey on ground by running quickly, stopping and pecking;... read more


Almost any month, but mostly Aug–Dec (Jun–Jan), in dry season just before rains; Feb in Namibia. Monogamous and solitary, but... read more


Locally nomadic, apparently in response to vagaries of rainfall, but no long-distance movements... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Although fairly common in drier parts of range, numbers are declining in more southerly regions, probably as a result of poor grazing... read more

Recommended citation

Maclean, G.L. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Burchell's Courser (Cursorius rufus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 October 2018).