Small pratincole

   ›      ›   Small pratincole - Glareola lactea

The small pratincole (Glareola lactea) belongs to the family of pratincoles and coursers, Glareolidae.

The small pratincole species are distributed in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Oman. These pratincole species are insectivorous, mostly catching their food on the wing. These pratincoles are monotypic species.

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

Small pratincole - Overview

  • Scientific name: Glareola lactea
  • Species author: Temminck, 1820
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Glareola lactea Temminck, 1820
  • Family: Glareolidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Small pratincole, Chinese: 灰燕鸻, French: Glaréole lactée, German: Sandbrachschwalbe, Spanish: Canastera chica, Russian: Малая тиркушка, Japanese: ヒメツバメチドリ, Malay: Burung Kedidi Padang Kecil
  • Other names: little pratincole
  • Distribution: India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Oman
  • Diet and feeding habits: locust, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, flies, moths
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The small pratincole (Glareola lactea) is a small bird, measuring 15 to 19 cm in length and weighing 35 to 45 grams. The wingspan is 40 to 50 cm.

The upperparts of the small pratincole are uniform sandy gray. The mantle is pale sandy gray. The crown is brownish gray. The forehead is brownish fading towards nape. The lores are black.

The small pratincole wings are long and pointed. The primaries are black. The primaries project well beyond the tail. The secondaries are white with black tip. There is a broad white band in the center of the wing. The underwing coverts are black.

The rump and the base of tail of small pratincole are whitish. The tail has a black wedge-shaped subterminal patch. This makes the square tail to appear forked. The tail has a thin white terminal band.

The throat and breast are buffish gray and rest of the underparts are white. There is no demarcated throat-patch with border.

The non-breeding pratincoles are duller. The throat is white and bordered with fine streaks. The lores are paler. In juveniles, the crown has buff spots and the throat is encircled with fine brown spots.

The short bill of small pratincole is black with a small red patch at the base. The irises are dark brown. The legs are short and are brownish gray.

Their call is a high-pitched rolling "prrit or tirrit" sound when flying and repeated "tiririt..tiririt..tiririt" when disturbed or alarmed.
Indian birds - Picture of Small pratincole - Glareola lactea
1.Birds of India - Image of Small pratincole - Glareola lactea by Sp.herp

Birds of India - Photo of Small pratincole - Glareola lactea
2.Indian birds - Picture of Small pratincole - Glareola lactea by Davidvraju

Indian birds - Image of Small pratincole - Glareola lactea
3.Birds of India - Photo of Small pratincole - Glareola lactea by Sp.herp

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The small pratincole species are distributed in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Oman.

Resident small pratincole species occur in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China (Yunnan).

Migratory breeding populations of these pratincoles occur in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The wintering populations occur in Oman.

Vagrant small pratincoles occur in Iran, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Malaysia and Singapore.

In India, these pratincole species are distributed in all the states, except Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these small pratincole species in Thailand are Nong Bong Kai and Mekong Channel near Pakchom. The IBA in Pakistan are Indus Dolphin Reserve and Kandhkot wetlands.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these pratincoles in Myanmar is Ayeyarwady River from Myitkyina to Sinbo Section. The IBA in Cambodia are Sesan River and Mekong River from Kratie to Lao PDR.

The IBA of these birds in Laos are Upper Lao Mekong, Siphandon, Mekong River from Phou Xiang Thong to Siphandon and Mekong River from Luang Prabang to Vientiane.

Ecosystem and habitat

These small pratincole species do not normally occur in forests. These species normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1800 meters.

The natural ecosystems of these pratincole species include intertidal salt marshes with emergent grasses, margins of freshwater swamps, margins of freshwater lakes, sand-bars and banks of large rivers, margins of dry lakes, estuaries, coastal lagoons, sandy shores, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the small pratincole consists mainly of flying insects. Flies, beetles, cicadas, grasshoppers, moths, locust, winged termites and ants, honeybees and wasps are their primary food.

These small pratincole species are crepuscular in their foraging activities. They are gregarious species forming large flocks while foraging.

They hawk insects at dusk with buoyant flight and frequent upward swoops. They may also chase insects across sandy ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The laying season of these small pratincole species in India and Sri Lanka is from February to April. The breeding season in Pakistan is during March and April. In Laos, the breeding season is from March to May.

These pratincoles are monogamous and form loose nesting colonies on the sandbars and gravel or sand banks in rivers. The nest is a bare, shallow scrape on the ground.

The clutch may contain 2-4 pale buff colored eggs with fine, dark streaking. Broken wing displays are used to distract predators.

Migration and movement patterns

The small pratincole species are partially migratory birds.

Breeding small pratincole populations are found in Pakistan and northeastern Afghanistan. Probably these populations migrate to Omen for wintering. In rest of their range these birds are resident.

Post breeding, the juvenile pratincoles 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 small pratincole (Glareola lactea) has not been estimated. The overall population trend of these species is not known.

Throughout its range this pratincole species is reported to be uncommon to locally common. The generation length is 7.3 years. Its distribution size is about 8,710,000

Habitat degradation, habitat loss, loss of breeding sites and blocking river flow are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these pratincole species.

IUCN and CITES status

The small pratincole (Glareola lactea) 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.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for small pratincole (Glareola lactea).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Glareola lactea
Species:G. lactea
Binomial name:Glareola lactea
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The small pratincole (Glareola lactea) is closely related to the grey pratincole (Glareola cinerea) and the rock pratincole (Glareola nuchalis).
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1.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Sp.herp | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Davidvraju | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Sp.herp | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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