Jerdon's courser

   ›      ›   Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus

The Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is a "Critically Endangered" courser, belonging to the family Glareolidae.

The Jerdon's courser species are endemic to the Eastern Ghats mountain range in Andhra Pradesh state, India. There are only 50 to 250 living individuals of these courser species. These coursers are monotypic species.

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

Jerdon's courser - Overview

  • Scientific name: Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
  • Species author: (Blyth, 1848)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Macrotarsius bitorquatus Blyth, 1848
  • Family: Glareolidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Jerdon's courser, Chinese: 约氏走鸻, French: Courvite de Jerdon, German: Godavarirennvogel, Spanish: Corredor del Godavari, Russian: Бегунок Джердона, Japanese: クビワスナバシリ
  • Other names: Double-banded Courser
  • Distribution: endemic to Eastern Ghats, Andhra Pradesh, India
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects
  • IUCN status listing: Critically Endangered (CR)
The Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is closely related to bronze-winged courser or violet-tipped courser (Rhinoptilus chalcopterus).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is a compact courser, measuring 27 cm in length.

The Jerdon's courser is a small, nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird. The overall plumage is cryptic, sandy-brown. It has slim body, upright stance and long legs. The crown and nape of the courser are dark brown. There is a white crown stripe.

There is a broad brown supercilium. These courser species has two brown bands at the breast region. There is a chestnut throat patch. The tips of black primaries bear white patch. The pale yellow eye-stripes join to form a V shape. The underparts are whitish.

The black tail has a whitsh base. The legs are pale yellow. The short yellow bill has a black tip. Their call is a series of "Twick-too...Twick-too" or "yak-wak.. yak-wak" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
Birds of India - Image of Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus

Birds of India - Photo of Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
Indian birds - Picture of Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus

Indian birds - Image of Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus egg
Birds of India - Photo of Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus egg

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Jerdon's courser species are endemic to southern Andhra Pradesh in India.

These courser species were first discovered and described by Thomas C. Jerdon in 1848. He recorded the species at “hilly country above the Eastern Ghats off Nellore and in Kadapa district” of Andhra Pradesh.

Later the Jerdon's courser was recorded in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, Godavari river valley near Sironcha and Bhadrachalam and Pennar River valley near Cuddapah and Anantpur areas in Andhra Pradesh. For the next 80 years there were no further sightings and the species was considered to be extinct.

The Jerdon's courser was rediscovered by Bharat Bhushan, an ornithologist at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) on 13th January 1986 in Kadapa district. With the help of local trappers a specimen was captured.

Subsequently, the Government declared the region as Sri Lankamalleshwara Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1988. Since then there are a few sightings of these rare birds in Lankamalai, Velikonda and Palakonda hill-ranges. The call of Jerdon's courser was identified and recorded by Dr P Jeganathan and his team for the first time in 2002.

An egg of Jerdon's courser had been collected in the vicinity of the Kolar Gold Fields, east of Bangalore, in 1917 by Ernest Meaton. In 2008, Alan Knox, the university's emeritus head of museums examined it and now it is identified and preserved at Zoology Museum, University of Aberdeen.

The search and the study of Jerdon’s Courser are still on with help of many new technologies like innovative methods of camera traps. The local population is also educated about the rarity of these species.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these Courser species are Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary and Sri Penusila Narasimha Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Jerdon's courser species do not normally occur in forest. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.

The natural ecosystems of these courser species are tropical and subtropical dry shrublands, heavily degraded forests, sparse thorny jungles, sparse non-thorny shrublands, bushes with patches of bare ground and undulating rocky foothills.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Jerdon's courser species is mostly insects. It is a nocturnal bird, foraging among bushes for slow moving insects like termites.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these Jerdon's courser species is not known. A male with developed gonads was collected in June; may be indicative of breeding period. The typical clutch contains one or two speckled, pale yellow eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These Jerdon's courser species are non-migratory resident birds.

Post breeding, the 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 Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is estimated to be around 50 to 250 individual birds. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be decreasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be very rare. The generation length is 7.3 years. Their distribution size is about 19,300

The Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) species are "Critically Endangered". Their habit is becoming scarce and fragmented.

Activities connected with human settlements like cattle-grazing, firewood collection, changing land topography, clearance for agriculture and plantations and increase in the agricultural activity due to Telugu-Ganga Canal are directly affecting the habitat.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as "Critically Endangered". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
Species:R. bitorquatus
Binomial name:Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
IUCN status listing:
Critically Endangered
Popular posts in Birds of India
Painted sandgrouse Pale-capped pigeon
Nicobar parakeet Banded bay cuckoo
Spot-bellied eagle-owl Savanna nightjar
Asian palm-swift Ruddy kingfisher
Nicobar scops owl Andaman nightjar
White-throated needletail Oriental dwarf kingfisher
Asian green bee-eater Malabar grey hornbill
Arctic jaeger Spotted sandgrouse
Ashy wood pigeon Red-breasted parakeet
Himalayan cuckoo Eurasian eagle-owl
Pallas's sandgrouse Yellow-eyed pigeon
Plum-headed parakeet Whistling hawk-cuckoo
Pallid scops owl Sykes's nightjar
Edible-nest swiftlet Indian roller
Great eared nightjar Crested treeswift
Rock dove Rose-ringed parakeet
Chestnut-winged cuckoo Common barn-owl
Mountain scops-owl Hodgson's frogmouth
Jungle nightjar Glossy swiftlet
Malabar trogon Hill pigeon
Common kingfisher South polar skua
Pin-tailed sandgrouse Common wood pigeon
Blossom-headed parakeet Indian cuckoo
Oriental scops owl Large-tailed nightjar
Slaty-headed parakeet Silver-backed needletail
Brown-winged kingfisher Blue-cheeked bee-eater
European bee-eater Oriental pied hornbill
White-eyed gull Caspian tern
Andaman wood pigeon Long-tailed parakeet
Plaintive cuckoo Dusky eagle-owl

1.Image source:
Image author: PJeganathan | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source:,_or_the_plovers,_sandpipers,_snipes,_and_their_allies_(1888)_(14732500326).jpg
Image author: Public domain
3.Image source:
Image author: Ranjini Murali | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Jerdon's courser - Rhinoptilus bitorquatus.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.