Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor


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). The population trend appears to be declining but it is not thought 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.

Population justification
The global population size is unknown due to recent taxonomic splits. The European population is estimated at 450-2,800 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is declining, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2016). The European population trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).


The species inhabits arid, open, usually fairly flat, warm to hot desert and semi-desert. It also uses short-grass and gravel plains, saltflats, semi-arid ground among sparse Acacia, semi-cultivated steppe and gravel roads. It breeds from late February to June in North Africa, Mauritania, Israel and Iran, from February to April in Arabia, May-July in Turkmenistan, April in Pakistan, April-May in Jordan, February-May on Canary Islands, September-May on Cape Verde Islands, December-May in Senegal and September-July on Socotra. The nest is a shallow unlined scrape on bare ground. Clutch size usually two eggs. It feeds mostly on adult and larval insects but also takes molluscs, isopods, arachnids and seeds. The nominate race makes extensive movements, with much of the northern population apparently crossing the Sahara for winter. Race bogolubovi is mainly a winter visitor to Pakistan and north-west India (Maclean and Kirwan 2016). Its movements in the Canary Islands are poorly known (Martín and Lorenzo 2001 in Madroño et al. 2004). There may be two populations on Lanzarote, one resident the other migratory (Concepción 2000b in Madroño et al. 2004). Birds are present on Tenerife during the winter (Tucker and Heath 1994).


In the past, heavy egg-collecting pressure contributed to the species' rarity on the Canary Islands. Now the main threats are the destruction and alteration of habitat through development of tourist resorts and the building of new roads (Maclean and Kirwan 2016). In addition overgrazing may cause a problem through soil loss and desertification. Disturbance has increased as a result of an increase in off-road tourist vehicles and military manoeuvres (Gonzalez 1999). There is a need for site protection on the Canary Islands and this would also benefit the endemic race of Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae) (Maclean and Kirwan 2016). Other potential threats include collision with powerlines, introduced mammals and illegal hunting (Gonzalez 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is categorised as Endangered on the Spanish Red List. It is also listed in the National Catalogue of Threatened Species in the category Sensitive to Habitat Alteration. Annex I of the Birds Directive. Annex II of the Bern Convention. In the Canary Islands this species has benefited from conservation measures taken for the Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae), such as the designation of two SPAs (Jandía and Dunas de Corralejo e Isla de Lobos) in 1986. The Canary Island Countryside Act passed in 1986 and 1994 declared two areas, Corralejo and Jandía, as national parks to protect the species (Gonzalez 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
In Europe this species would benefit from the designation of SPAs that cover the best habitat areas and the creation of new protected areas to enlarge the network, as well as the implementation of management plans for the species in these areas. Areas in the eastern islands important to the species should be defined. In critical areas, avoid holding military manoeuvres and restrict and control vehicle movement. An awareness campaign of the restrictions should be implemented. In addition in these areas powerlines should be laid underground, grazing should be controlled and habitat alteration prevented. Regular monitoring and censuses of the population should take place and research programmes on the species should be set up (Gonzalez 1999).


Text account compilers
Calvert, R., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Cursorius cursor. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.