Winter breeding by Cream-coloured Coursers is more common than previously reported

By | 31 August 2015

Until the end of the 20th century there were only limited numbers of autumn-winter breeding records of the Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor). With the exception of Cape Verde, all these mentions of winter breeding are outside the Western Palearctic (as defined in the BWP) and the Arabian Peninsula including Socotra Islands.

In a recent paper published in the Wader Study Group Bulletin, Amezian et al (2014) compiled several winter breeding observations which were obtained mainly by amateur birders (citizen scientists) and showed that this phenomenon is more common when local conditions (especially rainfall) are favourable. These observations are from several parts of the species’ range, as far apart as Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, across Oman and Senegal, although the majority are from the region of Oued ad-Dahab, southern Morocco.

In view of the observations gathered here from different regions (of which most occurred after a rainy summer/autumn), with the addition of the records cited in the literature, we can conclude that the phenomenon of autumn-winter breeding by Cream-coloured Coursers is more common than previously supposed.

Amezian, M., Bergier, P. & Qninba, A. 2014. Autumn-winter breeding by Cream-coloured Coursers Cursorius cursor is more common than previously reported. Wader Study Group Bulletin 121: 177–180.

Adult Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) feeding a small chick at Hadibo, Socotra Island, Yemen, 13 January 2006

Adult Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) feeding a small chick at Hadibo, Socotra Island, Yemen, 13 January 2006 (Hanne & Jens Eriksen)

Juvenile Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) at Oum el Hajj, near Merzouga, Morocco, 14 December 2010

Juvenile Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) at Oum el Hajj, near Merzouga, Morocco, 14 December 2010 (Alexandre Beauquenne)

Overlooked observations/reports:

1) We overlooked the paper of Porter & Suleiman (2014) which had showed that the species breeds from September until July in Socotra Islands:

Porter, R.F. & Suleiman, A.S. 2014. The populations and distribution of the breeding birds of the Socotra archipelago, Yemen: 2. Shearwaters to Terns. Sandgrouse 36: 8–33.

2) In a recent project, Alex Tavares Gonçalves confirmed previous observations that the endemic subspecies of the Cape Verde Cursorius cursor exsul is breeding after rains (from August until October in this study). Of source, the main objectives of the project were to study other aspects of the ecology of the species. See the report in the the African Bird Club website:

Tavares, A. 2014. Monitoring Cream-coloured Cursors Cursorius cursor exsul on the island of Maio, Cabo Verde. Fundação Maio Biodiversidade, Ilha do Maio, Cabo Verde, 9 pp.

Recent observations (after the publication of the paper):

1) Two juveniles of about 10 days photographed with their parents (photos 3 and 4 below) in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) on 15 February 2015 by Juan José Ramos. Taking into account of the period of incubation (19 days), the eggs must have been laid by mid-January. Gracias Juan José!

Any other recent records of autumn/winter breeding by this species are very welcome, with many thanks in advance.

Chick of Cream-coloured Courser (about 10 days), Fuerteventura (Canary Islands), 15 February 2015 (Juan José Ramos / Birding Canarias).

Chick of Cream-coloured Courser (about 10 days), Fuerteventura (Canary Islands), 15 February 2015 (Juan José Ramos / Birding Canarias).

Adults Cream-coloured Courser: parents of the chick above, Fuerteventura (Canary Islands), 15 February 2015 (Juan José Ramos / Birding Canarias).

Adults Cream-coloured Courser: parents of the chick above, Fuerteventura (Canary Islands), 15 February 2015 (Juan José Ramos / Birding Canarias).

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