Glareola pratincola Linnaeus, 1766
Common names: Collared Pratincole [En], Glaréole à collier [Fr], Vorkstaartplevier [Nl], Rotflügel-Brachschwalbe [De], Pernice di mare [It], Canastera Común [Es], Νεροχελίδονο, [Gr], Bataklık kırlangıcı [Tu]
İris Golu, Karaburun, İZMİR ● Turkey
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Description: Length of 24 – 28 cm and wingspan of 60 – 70 cm. The common name of this bird arises from the distinctive band of black plumage that runs around the throat, from eye to eye, giving the appearance of a necklace or a collar. The rest of the head, and also the back, are a sandy brown, and the belly and rump are white. The black, forked tail and dark brown wings are long and narrow, and the wings have rust-coloured linings. The short, hooked beak is black with a red base. There is little to distinguish male collared pratincoles from females and, for both sexes, breeding adults have cream-coloured throats. Juveniles lack the distinctive head decorations of the adults, and also differ in the plumage of the back, which has a scaled pattern.
Biology : This bird typically lives in small colonies, although outside of the breeding season these can expand to considerably larger flocks. It is an insectivore, most active at dawn and dusk, when it feeds predominantly on grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and beetles. Usually feeding in a flock, the collared pratincole zigzags gracefully through swarming insects, plucking prey from the air with an elegance comparable to that of a swallow. However, it is also a fast runner and is often able to hunt successfully without taking to the air.
Breeding takes place annually, when the collared pratincole constructs a nest at a location chosen for its safety from predators, such as a small island in a lake, or on a sandbank or mudflat. The nest itself can be any dent in the earth, even a hoof-print. Hundreds of breeding pairs may nest together, although birds that get too close to their neighbours are often seen as intruders and will be warned off with a threatening pose. Within 19 days of the eggs being laid, the chicks will have hatched and can run almost immediately, but do not fledge until about a month later. It takes only a year for an individual to reach sexual maturity. In September, after the breeding season, the European and Asian colonies migrate to the warmer climates of Africa, returning to the breeding areas in March.
Pratincoles have a strange method of distracting predators from the nest; if harassed enough, the bird will fall to the ground and act as if one or both of its wings are broken, often trailing a wing behind as it walks. This behaviour will cause a predator to turn its attention to the adult and away from the nest.
Habitat: The collared pratincole inhabits flat, open areas with sparse vegetation, as well as patches of bare ground, overgrazed pastures and, occasionally, ploughed fields in Europe and Asia. In Africa, it is usually found in open areas close to the water, especially along larger rivers and estuaries where there is mud and sparse grasses.
Distribution: The collared pratincole breeds in southern Europe, north and central Africa, and central Asia, and migrates south during winter to southern Africa and India.
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