Bird of the Week – Week 90 – Double-banded courser

In the drier areas of southern Africa, particularly in the semi-desert of the Kalahari spreading from Namibia into Botswana and central South Africa, the Double-banded courser is not an uncommon sight. Preferring open plains with short grass and the bare ground of dry pans, they are fairly easy to see, although their cryptic colouring provides limited camouflage. Because of their preferred habitat they seem to have benefitted from the overgrazing and erosion which has increased the availability of this habitat. They are largely absent from the wetter eastern side of the region.

Double-banded courser

Males and females are alike in both size and plumage colouration. The two breast bands are very distinctive. Head and neck are pale sandy-brown, finely streaked with black; back and wings are brown; under parts are pale sandy-brown becoming white on the belly; bills are black; legs and feet greyish-white; eyes are dark brown.

They feed mainly on ants, termites, and beetles, which they pick from the ground while walking, preferring to feed in the early morning and late evening. They are, to some extent, nocturnal and may feed during the night, especially when the moon is bright.

Double-banded courser

The call of the Double-banded courser is a whistled “peeu-weee“, although it also has an assortment of alarm calls and also courtship calls.

Double-banded coursers are usually found singly or in pairs. They are monogamous and the female lays a single egg directly on the ground, without the benefit of a nest, although a ring of pebbles or animal dung may designate the site. The egg hatches after and incubation period of approximately 26 days and the chick is able to leave the “nest”after 24 hours, which is probably a good thing under the circumstances!

Double-banded courser

The scientific binomial for the Double-banded courser is Rhinoptilus africanus; Rhinoptilus from the Greek  for “feathered nostril” and africanus from the Latin for “from Africa”. Thus a bird from Africa with feathered nostrils.

Double-banded courser

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