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

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 and 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 this report in 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).

2 thoughts on “Winter breeding by Cream-coloured Coursers is more common than previously reported”

  1. Narainsamy Ramen

    Attention Dr Jens and wife Hanne. A long life passion and in the past 15 yrs been working on my fourth publication: “Birds of the Indian Ocean”. I have travelled the length and breadth of all the 17 islands of the Indian Ocean searching for its endemic species. In this book, I will share well over 1000 birds and well over 260 endemic species. One island left is Socotra which has 11 endemic species. In this book I would like to share my experience from all those islands. Their latest book, “Birds of the Indian Ocean”, is a fully illustrated book for young people, and my aim is to highlight the great diversity of the Indian Ocean bird species. Though it is intended for children, everybody from an early age of 5 to 115 will learn from this book, which will be available soon. I need help with the island of Socotra. Please do keep in touch.

    Yours truly,
    N. Ramen

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