Justification of Red List Category
Although difficult to classify, the evidence of declines in Europe, West Africa and Central Asia indicate that this species has experienced moderately rapid overall declines, and thus warrants Near Threatened status.
Survey work in Kazakhstan and subsequent re-calculation of bird numbers across the known range of the species would suggest a world population of 76,000-95,000 pairs, roughly equivalent to 220,000-290,000 individuals in total. This upward revision of breeding numbers is reasonable given the large flocks recently reported on the wintering grounds, e.g. a flock of 76,000 individuals recorded at Vaal Dam in South Africa on the wintering grounds. An even larger flock of 250,000-800,000 individuals in Orange Free State in South Africa in 1991 suggests the population may be (or might have been) even larger.
The most significant European population (in European Russia) was reported to have declined steeply during 1990-2000, and overall the species declined by more than 50% over ten years (BirdLife International 2004). The most recent assessment of the European population estimated the rate of decline at 30-49% in 21.9 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). The species is increasing in central and north-east Kazakhstan and south-east Russia. Trends in Central Asia are likely to determine the global status of the species, and there is evidence that some colonies have disappeared. Overall declines of approximately 20% are suspected.
This species has a very large range, breeding in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan and sporadically in Belarus, Hungary and Azerbaijan. It migrates to southern Africa, mainly Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, and irregularly to West Africa. It is now rarely recorded in West Africa, possibly indicating a dwindling 'sub-population' of breeding birds from south-east Europe that once wintered in larger numbers (Dodman 2002). Some birds winter in Ethiopia, as the observation of 5,000 birds at river Baro in January 1973 indicates (Ash 1977). Passage birds are regularly recorded in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Rwanda, Burundi, west Uganda, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, west Zambia and Angola. Non-breeding birds are also recorded in Libya, Lesotho, Niger, Morocco, Uzbekistan (rarely (S. Sklyarenko in litt. 2005)), Kyrgyzstan and Georgia (small flocks of up to 3,400 individuals recorded from the Choroki Delta [R. Sheldon in litt. 2016]). The population was estimated at 29,000-45,000 birds following country expert interviews during the Single Species Action Plan Workshop (Moscow, 2002) (Belik and Lebedeva 2004). However, this seems to be an underestimate and was probably based on incomplete coverage: the current breeding population has been estimated at 76,000 to 95,000 breeding pairs, based on five large scale surveys across the whole breeding range (Kamp et al. 2009). A flock of 250,000-800,000 birds in Orange Free State, South Africa, in 1991 (du Plessis 1995) and a flock of 76,500 birds at Vaal Dam, South Africa, in 2006 (University of Cape Town 2006) support these substantially larger figures. Trends for the Asian population are poorly studied. There was a clear negative trend in eastern areas of the breeding range 1990-2000 going possibly along with a range contraction (e.g. Berezovikov 2002), but a slightly positive trend in some parts of South Asian Russia (Karyakin and Koslov 1999). At least since 2004, a positive trend has been observed in Akmola and Karaganda regions, Central Kazakhstan (J. Kamp et al. in prep.). At least since 2000, numbers have been increasing in Pavlodar region, north-east Kazakhstan, with a 20-30% population increase between 1998 and 2007 (Kamp et al. 2009; A. O Solomatin pers. comm.). This increase coincides with the massive increase of fallow and abandoned land in north-east Kazakhstan and European Russia. The European population (2,500-5,100 pairs, occupying 25-49% of the global breeding range) declined by over 50% during 1990-2000, with steep declines in European Russia (A. Mischenko in litt. 1999, Belik et al. 2000) and Ukraine (BirdLife International 2004). Greater availability of suitable habitat is likely to have lessened the declines now (Kamp et al. 2009). Surveys in 2006 of 65,000 km2 in the Stavropolskii Krai, south-east Russia found a total of 1,800 breeding pairs (L. Malovichko and M. Koshkin in litt. 2007) in an area where only 100-200 pairs were estimated in 2004 (Belik and Lebedeva 2004). The European population was most recently estimated at 6,000-7,100 pairs and estimated to be decreasing by 30-49% in 21.9 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). Recently, declines have been reported from the South African wintering grounds (Barnes 2000). A count of 20,000 individuals in 2006 at Chagraiskoe reservoir, Manych, Stavropolskii Krai, south-west Russia represents one of the largest flocks in recent times recorded outside the wintering range (L. Malovichko and M. Koshkin in litt. 2007). It is clear that additional survey work visiting suitable habitat is required, especially in Kazakhstan and Asiatic Russia, but available evidence does not indicate that the global population is small or declining rapidly.
Behaviour This species is migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It nests in small to large colonies (5 to >500 pairs, occasionally thousands (del Hoyo et al. 1996)) from May to July (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Birds gather to moult after breeding in July and August, and then apparently migrate rapidly overland at high altitude to non-breeding grounds (Belik and Lebedeva 2004; Hayman et al. 1986). They depart between August and early October (Belik and Lebedeva 2004; Hayman et al. 1986), and arrive on their wintering grounds in October-November (Hockey et al. 2005). Migrating flocks of several thousand individuals have been recorded (Cramp and Simmons 1983). During the non-breeding season the species is constantly nomadic (del Hoyo et al. 1996; Cramp and Simmons 1983) and highly congregatory, occurring regularly in flocks of 10-100 (Cramp and Simmons 1983), and occasionally in foraging flocks of thousands (Cramp and Simmons 1983), often in association with Collared Pratincoles Glareola praticola (Hockey et al. 2005). It roosts at night in loose concentrations (Hockey et al. 2005). The return migration begins in March, with birds arriving on the breeding grounds from the end of April through May (Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat Breeding It breeds on grazed short-grass steppe, fallow and ploughed fields as well as on alkaline flats, sandspits, shell ridges and sparsely vegetated Solonchaks (saltpans) in lake depressions and river valleys (Belik and Lebedeva 2004; Hayman et al. 1986; J. Kamp et al. in prep.;Hockey et al. 2005; Cramp and Simmons 1983). Large colonies always occur near water and damp meadows, or marshes overgrown with dense grass (Cramp and Simmons 1983). A study on habitat selection in Central Kazakhstan in 2006 revealed presence of livestock, vegetation height and the availability of water as key habitat features whereas vegetation type and topography had no influence (J. Kamp et al. (in prep.). Nonbreeding birds frequent open high-altitude glassland and mudflats (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season it occupies seasonally wet grasslands, savannas, and sandbanks along large rivers (Belik and Lebedeva 2004; Hayman et al. 1986). It is also found at the edges of salt pans (Hockey et al. 2005). Diet It feeds on epigeic and airborne insects, particularly swarming species (Hockey et al. 2005). It takes locusts, orthopterans and coleopterans as well as wasps, bees, dragonflies, ants, termites, flies, ichneumons and cockroaches (Hockey et al. 2005; del Hoyo et al. 1996; Cramp and Simmons 1983). It responds quickly to insect emergence after storms (Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site This species nests on open ground, usually near water (Cramp and Simmons 1983). The nest consists of a shallow depression of about 10cm diameter lined with small pieces of available vegetation (Cramp and Simmons 1983). Mortality of eggs and chicks strongly fluctuates and may reach 60-100% annually (Belik and Lebedeva 2004). Recent quantitative data from Kazakhstan indicate higher fledging rates with a mean of 0.5 fledged chicks per nesting pair in 2006-2007 (Akmola, Karaganda and Pavlodar regions) (J. Kamp et al. in prep.).
Threats are poorly understood. Where declines are occurring the key factors probably relate to changing land-use practices such as conversion of steppe to arable agriculture in some areas (although much former agricultural land in Central Asia is now becoming fallow and grazed areas provide new breeding habitat), shifts in arable land versus livestock grazing on semi-natural steppe in others, and agricultural operations, such as harrowing. A study in Kazakhstan by Kamp et al. (2009) reported that the species is largely dependent on the presence of large grazers and declines occurring from the end of the 19th century in Ukraine and European Russia have been associated with the increase in ploughed areas and the loss of grazed steppe (Kamp et al. 2009). Nest trampling by livestock might influence breeding success at the Kazakhstan strongholds (Kamp et al. 2009). In some areas, predation by corvids may affect breeding success. In the wintering grounds, agricultural practices and grassland degradation may have reduced the area of available habitat, and locust control measures may also have negative impacts (Hockey and Douie 1995) both in terms of loss of a food source and the impact of pesticides (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Hunting is also likely to threaten the species (R. Sheldon in litt. 2016). Whether regional climate change, as proved for Pavlodar region in northern Kazakhstan, affects the species negatively or positively, is largely unknown (A. O Solomatin pers. comm.) but it is likely to influence distribution and abundance.
Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. An international single species action plan was published in 2004 (Belik and Lebedeva 2004). A national action plan for the stronghold country Kazakhstan is at the stage of preparation.
23-26 cm. A large pratincole. Grey-brown neck, upper breast, and most of upperparts, with darker primaries and secondaries. Rump, uppertail-coverts, and lower breast to vent whitish. Chin coloured cream, encircled by black line. Non-breeding birds less distinctly patterned, and immatures lack clearly defined pattern on chin to breast. Similar spp. Collared Pratincole G. pratincola overlaps in range and is very similar, but has white trailing edge to secondaries and, as does Oriental Pratincole G. maldivarum, chestnut-wing linings. Voice High, harsh, tern-like kik or kirrik calls, sometimes a rolling kikki-kirrik-irrik.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Harding, M., Pilgrim, J., Ashpole, J
Koshkin, M., Malovichko, L., Kamp, J., Bragin, E., Mischenko, A., Sklyarenko, S., Sheldon, R.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Glareola nordmanni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020.