Cream-coloured courser

   ›      ›   Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor
The cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) belongs to the family of the pratincoles and the coursers, Glareolidae.

These courser species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, North Africa and southwest Asia. These cream-coloured courser species inhabit arid, desert and semi-desert ecosystems. There are three recognized subspecies of these courser species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Cream-coloured Courser Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Cream-coloured courser - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cursorius cursor
  • Species author: (Latham, 1787)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Charadrius cursor Latham, 1787
  • Family: Glareolidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Cream-coloured courser, Chinese: 乳色走鸻, French: Courvite isabelle, German: Rennvogel, Spanish: Corredor sahariano, Russian: Бегунок, Japanese: スナバシリ, Arabic: الدراج, الدرج
  • Other names: Common Cream-coloured Courser, Cream-colored Courser
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, North Africa and southwest Asia
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, larvae
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) is closely related to Burchell's courser (Cursorius rufus), Temminck's courser (Cursorius temminckii), Indian courser (Cursorius coromandelicus) and Somali courser (Cursorius somalensis).
The three recognized subspecies of cream-coloured courser are: Cursorius cursor bogolubovi Zarudny, 1885, Cursorius cursor cursor (Latham, 1787) and Cursorius cursor exsul E. J. O. Hartert, 1920.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) is a small bird measuring 20 to 25 cm in length and weighing 115 to 160 grams. The wingspan is 50 to 60 cm.

The overall plumage of these courser species is sandy buff. The underparts are paler and sometimes whitish. The wings are long. The upper wing primary feathers and the underwings are black. There is a black eye stripe and a white supercilium, converging at the base of the nape.

The courser forehead, sides of the neck and throat are more rufus. The rear crown and upper nape are gray. The bill is slightly down curved and is black. The legs are long and are silvery gray. The irises are reddish black. Their call is a sharp piping sound.
Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor
Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor by Dibyendu Ash
Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor
Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor by Frank Vassen
Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor
Cream-coloured courser - Cursorius cursor by Shah Jahan

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The cream-coloured courser species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, north Africa, Sahel Belt, Canary Island and Cape Verde Islands.

The cream-coloured courser nominate subspecies C. c. cursor is distributed in Canary Islands, north Africa and Arabian Peninsula. These species winter Sahel Belt and Saudi Arabia. The subspecies C. c. exsul is distributed in Cape Verde Islands.

The cream-coloured courser subspecies C. c. bogolubovi is distributed in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and Turkmenistan. They winter in South Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India. In India they are distributed in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of cream-coloured courser in Spain are Cuchillete de Buenavista-gully of La Torre-Los Alares, Famara sandy plain, Peninsula of Jandía, Sandy plain of Corralejo, Río Cabras gully, Pozo Negro mountain-Vigán, Plains of Mareta-Hoya de la Yegua and Plains of La Corona-Las Honduras.

Ecosystem and habitat

These cream-coloured courser species do not normally occur in forest. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 800 meters. These species inhabit natural ecosystems like arid, dry open country, warm and hot deserts and semi-deserts. They also inhabit temperate grasslands and tropical and subtropical dry shrublands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these cream-coloured courser species is mostly insects and their larvae. Termites, ants, beetles, bugs, flies, crickets, cockroaches, maggots, grasshoppers, molluscs, isopods, arachnids and seeds are their primary food. They hunt the prey by running on the ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the cream-coloured courser is from September to May in Cape Verde Islands. The breeding season is from February to May in Canary Islands. The laying season is from February to June in North Africa and from February to April in Arabia.

The cream-coloured courser species nest on a shallow unlined scrape on bare ground. The typical clutch contains two speckled and well-camouflaged eggs. The hatchlings are initially fed by the parents. The chicks follow the parents and begin to forage on their own after a week.

Migration and movement patterns

The cream-coloured courser species are partially migratory birds.

The cream-coloured courser populations in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan and west Afghanistan winter in South Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India.

The cream-coloured courser populations in Canary Island, north Africa, Arabian Peninsula winter in Sahel Belt and Saudi Arabia. Some populations in Western Sahara, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, central Arabian Peninsula, Oman and certain pockets in Pakistan are resident birds.

Post breeding, the courser juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be decreasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be common to uncommon. The generation length is 7.3 years. Their distribution size is about 22,100,000

The cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Egg-collection, hunting, habitat modification and predation by the introduced mammals are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the courser species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cursorius cursor
Species:C. cursor
Binomial name:Cursorius cursor
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source:,_Churu,_Rajasthan,_India_February_15th,_2013.jpg
Image author: Dibyendu Ash | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source:,_Canary_Islands,_Spain-8.jpg
Image author: Frank Vassen | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 3/23/17
3.Image source:
Image author: Shah Jahan | License: CC BY 3.0
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