Burchell's Courser Cursorius rufus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Trend justification
The overall trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable (Wetlands International 2006).


Behaviour This species is locally nomadic (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) although few details are known about its movements (Hockey et al. 2005). It nests in solitary pairs (Hockey et al. 2005) with breeding peaking in the dry season just before the rains (between August and December) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Outside of the breeding season the species occurs in pairs or small loose flocks of up to 10 individuals (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat It inhabits open short-sward grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996), dry savannas (Hayman et al. 1986), fallow fields, overgrazed or burnt grasslands and pastures, bare or sparsely vegetated sandy or gravelly deserts (del Hoyo et al. 1996), stony areas dotted with small shrubs (Urban et al. 1986) and saltpans (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of insects such as harvester termites Hodotermes mossambicus (del Hoyo et al. 1996), larval Lepidoptera, beetles, weevils and ants (Hockey et al. 2005), but it will also occasionally take seeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site The eggs are laid directly onto bare ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996), sometimes between grass tufts (Hockey et al. 2005) or on small cleared patches of soil ringed with pieces of dried plant material, animal droppings and small stones (Urban et al. 1986).


The species is threatened in the south of its range by habitat degradation as a result of poor grazing practices (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and agricultural intensification (especially irrigation and the increased use of pesticides) (Hockey et al. 2005). It is also threatened by disturbance from domestic livestock (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Cursorius rufus. Downloaded from on 06/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/08/2020.