Family Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)

Least Concern

Rock Pratincole (Glareola nuchalis)


French: Glaréole auréolée German: Halsband-Brachschwalbe Spanish: Canastera sombría

Glareola nuchalis

G. R. Gray

, 1849,

Fifth Cataract of the Nile near Berber, Sudan


Sometimes placed in genus Galachrysia with G. cinerea and G. lactea. Race liberiae recently treated as a separate species#R, but only certain difference appears to be its rufous vs white hindcollar (3). Proposed form torrens (described from NE Namibia) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. n. liberiae Schlegel, 1881 – Rufous-collared Pratincole – Sierra Leone to W Cameroon.
  • G. n. nuchalis G. R. Gray, 1849 – White-collared Pratincole – L Chad, E Sudan to W Ethiopia, C Cameroon E to Uganda and extreme W Kenya, and S to SC Tanzania, Angola and R Zambezi in Zambia, NE Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–19 cm; 43–82·5 g. Above dark brownish grey; white lines from behind each eye join to form white collar across nape; rump and base of tail white; below... read more


    Alarm call is a faint “kip-kip-kip”; both sexes during breeding season give a long series of short... read more


    Exposed rocks in larger rivers and streams, especially for breeding; may rest on sandbars; when... read more

    Food and feeding

    Flies, including tsetse flies (Glossina), ants, beetles and other insects. Strongly gregarious; forages mainly on the wing at dawn... read more


    Season Feb–Apr in Sierra Leone, Dec–Mar in Ghana, Apr–Jun in Nigeria at low water, Jul–Oct in DRCongo, all months... read more


    May be resident, or largely so, at nesting sites in Nigeria, Cameroon, DRCongo, Uganda and W Kenya... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Nominate nuchalis quite common on suitable rivers where exposed rocks available and overall population perhaps at least c.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Maclean, G.L. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Rock Pratincole (Glareola nuchalis). 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 12 December 2019).