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Species Guide
A photo of a Double-banded Courser (Rhinoptilus africanus)
Double-banded Courser

Double-banded Courser

Rhinoptilus africanus

The double-banded courser, known scientifically as Rhinoptilus africanus, is a striking bird with a pale crown intricately streaked with brown and black feathers. A distinctive narrow black stripe runs from the base of its bill, through the eye, to the nape, while the cheeks, chin, throat, and neck exhibit a buff or white color flecked with dark brown. The back and wing coverts are adorned with sandy brown feathers, each with a dark center and broadly edged with white or buff. This bird's short bill is a blackish hue, its eyes are dark brown, and it stands on pale grey legs and feet.

Identification Tips

When trying to identify the double-banded courser, look for the two prominent bands across its chest, from which it derives its name. The upperparts are a sandy color, providing excellent camouflage against the arid landscapes it inhabits. Its flight is swift and direct, with rapid wingbeats, making it distinguishable from other ground birds when in the air.


The double-banded courser favors flat, stony, or gravelly semi-desert terrains. It thrives in areas with firm, sandy soil interspersed with tufty grass or thorn scrub, which provide both shelter and hunting grounds.


This species is found across a range of African countries, including Ethiopia, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania. Its widespread distribution suggests a stable population with minimal risk of endangerment.


The double-banded courser exhibits a fascinating breeding ritual where the male performs a semicircular dance around the female. Once the pair has mated, they share the responsibility of incubating their single egg, taking hour-long shifts. The chick is precocial, leaving the nest within a day of hatching but remaining nearby for a few days before joining its parents in foraging.

Song & Calls

The double-banded courser's vocalizations are not well-documented, but like many coursers, it may produce soft calls during the night or when alarmed.


Breeding seasons vary by location: in Ethiopia, it occurs from April to June; in Somalia, from February to July, peaking in May and June; in Tanzania, it takes place in November; and in South Africa, it happens throughout the year with a peak in October and November. The parents are diligent in their care, with the chick becoming independent at about 5 to 6 weeks old.

Diet and Feeding

This bird's diet consists predominantly of insects such as ants, termites, and beetles. It employs a run-and-jab technique to catch its prey, showcasing its agility and speed.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the double-banded courser as Least Concern, indicating a stable population with a low risk of extinction in the near future.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, the double-banded courser can be differentiated from other coursers and pratincoles by its unique chest bands and habitat preferences.


There are eight recognized subspecies of the double-banded courser, each with a distribution that spans various regions of Africa. These subspecies exhibit slight variations in plumage and size, adapted to their specific environments.

Double-banded Courser Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Double-banded Coursers on Birda


More Coursers, Pratincoles

A photo of a Indian Courser (Cursorius coromandelicus)

Indian Courser

Cursorius coromandelicus
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