Scientific name: Rhinoptilus
bitorquatus. Macrotarsius bitorquatus (Blyth,1848) now invalid.
Synonyms: Cursorius bitorquatus Collar and Andrew (1988).
Other common name: Double-banded Courser
Local names: Telegu (AP): Kalivi kodi;
Adavi wuta-titti (?)
Status: Critically Endangered
The Jerdon's Courser belongs to the Glareolidae
family which includes two distinct groups: the pratincoles & the coursers.
Glareolidae is a family of birds in the wader suborder Charadri. Unlike
waders, birds belonging to this family inhabit deserts and similar arid
regions. The key feature that characterizes this family is the arched bill
with the nostrils placed at the base.
Indian Courser showing characteristic bill &
nostril. Pic: Nik
The family contains 17 species in 6
genera and 33 taxa which have an Old World distribution and are thought to
have originated in Africa. There are 8 species of coursers worldwide, of which
Indian, Cream-coloured and Jerdon's occur in India.
Coursers have long tapered bills which curve downwards, short, broad wings,
long legs, vertical carriage, and three toes (often with comb-like serrated claws). Their long legs,
which incidentally give the group its name, allow them to run well. They
usually inhabit open and arid environments such as deserts and scrub where
they feed, in a plover-like fashion, primarily on insects.
The Jerdon's Courser is a monotypic
species, and a restricted-range endemic to the Eastern Ghats in India. It is thought to be closely
related to the Bronze-winged Courser (Rhinoptilus chalcopterus) which occurs
in Africa and uses a similar lightly wooded habitat.
First discovered by Capt. Surgeon
Thomas C. Jerdon in 1848, it was seen a few
times up to 1900. It was rediscovered in January 1986 by ornithologist Bharat
Bhushan in Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh with the help of Aitanna, a bird
trapper from Reddipalli village.
Image by Navendu Lad;
Sri Lankamalleshwaram Sanctuary. Nov 1999
Description: A compact 27cm large-eyed, grey-brown bird with two white
breast-bands bordered with black. Has shortish, black-tipped yellow bill,
broad whitish supercilium, dark cheek patch and an orange-chestnut gorget. A
narrow white coronal stripe runs on top of the blackish crown. In flight,
shows mostly black tail and white patch near tips of outermost black
primaries. Iris clear yellow and bill pale yellow-horn billSexes are thought to be alike. The species is nocturnal and spends
the day hiding under shade.
Call: Vocal after dark, the call is described as
"a series of staccato 'Twick-too...Twick-too... Twick-too' or 'yak-wak..
yak-wak' calls. The notes are repeated at the rate of about 1 per second
and uttered 2 to 16 times and several birds in the vicinity may join in the
Occurrence: Local endemic to the Eastern
Ghats of Andhra Pradesh and extreme southern Maharashtra [see map], the
Jerdon's now appears to be restricted to southern Andhra Pradesh.
Historically, known from specimens collected from the Godavari valley near
Sironcha and Bhadrachalam, and from the Kadapah and Anantpur areas in the
Penna River valley (Birdlife International, 2001), it is currently known to
survive only in the Lankamalai, Palkonda and Velikonda ranges in the Kadapa
district of Andhra Pradesh.
Current range: Between 140 0'-15015'N; 770 0'-79045'E; Also
Recent observations from areas marked in red
Population: Birdlife International estimates the global population to
be between 50 and 249 birds and decreasing. The Hindu newspaper
in June 2008 reported that the 2001 count at the Sri
Lankamalleswara Sanctuary found 32 pairs in the survey area.
Habitat: The Jerdon's Courser inhabits the
Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forest ecoregion [IM0201]
which represents the Hardwickia dominated woodlands. Its preferred habitat is charcterized by sparse and uninhabited scrub-forest, thin woodland and bushes,
interspersed with patches of bare ground in the gently rolling, rocky low
foothills of the Eastern Ghats.
Image by Navendu Lad; Sri Lankamalleshwaram Sanctuary. Nov 1999
Food: Presumed to be insectivorous. Known to be
partial to termites.
Breeding: Nothing is known yet about its nesting
Conservation status: "This poorly known species qualifies as Critically
Endangered as a result of its single, small, declining population, which is
threatened by exploitation of scrub-forest, livestock grazing, disturbance and
Conservation measures: The species is protected under Schedule I of the
Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and its hunting or trapping is prohibited in
India. There are two Jerdon's Courser sanctuaries in southern Andhra Pradesh:
Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary and the Sri Peninsula Narasimha Wildlife
1. A new method has been developed for detecting their presence by
placing specially prepared natural tracking strips of fine sand to record
their distinctive footprints (Jeganathan 2002). The Jerdon's Courser has a
vestigial hind toe and this knowledge aids identification from tracks left on
the tracking strips.
2. The construction of the Somasila Dam between1972-78 led to the residents of
57 villages being relocated into the region where the Courser was
rediscovered. With the rising population, there was increased livestock
pressures and firewood extraction. The scrub habitat preferred by the bird
also declined due to increased agricultural activity.[4;6]
3. Two Jerdon's Coursers were spotted by BNHS scientist Rahul Chavan and his
assistant Rahim in the Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary in Kadapah on
August 6, 2009.
References and sources:
BirdLife International (2009) Species
factsheet: Rhinoptilus bitorquatus.
BirdLife International Rhinoptilus
bitorquatus in: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version
BirdLife International 2003. Rhinoptilus
bitorquatus (Jerdon's Courser). In Threatened birds of Asia: The BirdLife
International Red Data book. Cambridge: BirdLife International.
Wikipedia: Jerdon's Courser
5. The Internet Bird Collection -
Coursers and Pratincoles
Bird Base: Rhinoptilus bitorquatus (pdf)
7. Pittie, A. (1999)
A tryst with Jerdon's Courser Cursorius bitorquatus
(Blyth). Newsletters For Birdwatchers 39 (6): 83-84
8. Jeganathan, P. and S. R. Wotton (2004)
The first recordings of calls of the Jerdon's Courser
Rhinoptilus bitorquatus (Blyth), Family Glareolidae.
J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc.101 (1):
9. "The Fifty Rarest Birds of the World", by Dr Mark Cocker, of the
International Council for Bird Preservation (Image).
Jerdon's Courser - BirdLife International
(2009) Species factsheet: Rhinoptilus bitorquatus.
11. Rasmussen P.C. & Anderton J.C. Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide.
Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests
(IM0201): World Wildlife Fund 2001
13. The Hindu (June 2008):
Jerdon's Courser: chalking out a survival strategy
14. The Hindu (August 2009):
Sighting of Jerdon's Courser sparks hope
Canal diverted to save Jerdon's Courser
- 2009 BirdLife International.
16. Bhushan, B (1986). "Rediscovery of the Jerdon's or Double-banded
Courser Cursorius bitorquatus". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 83: 1-14.
17. Kasambe, R., Pimplapure, A. & Thosar, G. (2008): In search of Jerdon's
Courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus in Vidarbha, Maharashtra. Newsletter for
18. Jerdon's courser habitat analysis using Remote sensing - N. V. Nanda
Kumar, et al.
19. Jeganathan, P. et al.: Modelling habitat selection and distribution of the
critically endangered Jerdon's courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus in scrub
jungle: an application of a new tracking method : Modelling species
20. Ali, S. A. and S. D. Ripley (1969) Handbook of the Birds of India and
Pakistan. Oxford University Press, Bombay. Vol.3: 11-12.
21. Bhushan, B. (1990a) Jerdon's Courser - rediscovery and survey. In:
BNHS Bombay, Final Report: Endangered Bird Project. Pp. 127-134.
22. Bhushan, B. (1992) Jerdon's Courser at Cuddapah. Newsletters for
Birdwatchers 32(5 and 6): 20.
23. Blyth (1848) Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 17:254.
24. Jeganathan, P. (2005) Call of the Jerdon's Courser. Hornbill Jan-Mar 2005:
25. Ripley, S. D and B. M. Beehler (1989) Systematics, biogeography, and
conservation of Jerdon's Courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus. J. Yamashina Inst.
Ornith. 21: 165-174.
26. The Babbler (June, 2003):
Red Data Bird revisited: Jerdon's Courser
27. Illustration of Jerdon's Courser courtesy
Bikram Grewal: Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Local Colour 2000