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A photo of a Bronze-winged Courser (Rhinoptilus chalcopterus)
Bronze-winged Courser

Bronze-winged Courser

Rhinoptilus chalcopterus

The Bronze-winged Courser, or Violet-tipped Courser, Rhinoptilus chalcopterus, is a small wading bird with a distinctive appearance. It is the largest of the coursers, measuring 25-29 centimeters in length, with a wingspan reaching up to 58 centimeters, and weighing between 91 and 220 grams. Its most notable feature is the bronze-tipped feathers visible during flight, which give this bird its name.

Identification Tips

Adult Bronze-winged Coursers can be identified by their grey-brown upper breast and back, white upper tail, and dark brown lower tail with white borders. A thin black band separates the upper chest from the buffy lower breast and belly. The head displays a cream-white supercilium, forecrown, and posterior eyeline, with buffy upper neck and throat. The underwing coverts are white, contrasting with the dark black primaries tipped with iridescent copper to violet. The bill is black with a reddish-purple base, and the legs are a striking red.

Habitat

This species favors semi-arid savannas and woodlands, often with dense brush, and is typically found at lower elevations up to 2,350 meters. It prefers areas with good visibility for nesting and is sensitive to habitat disruption from human activities such as farming.

Distribution

The Bronze-winged Courser is a resident of Sub-Saharan Africa, with seasonal movements. It breeds in the southern parts of its range and migrates northward post-breeding. It has been recorded in various locations across the continent, including Eritrea, Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, and more.

Behaviour

Bronze-winged Coursers are nocturnal and mainly solitary, forming monogamous pairs only for breeding. They are territorial, maintaining a distance of at least 100 meters between nests. This species is known for its quiet demeanor, except for its nighttime calls.

Song & Calls

The courser's vocalizations are primarily heard at night, as it is generally a silent bird during the day.

Breeding

Breeding occurs during the dry season in open sites with good visibility, often in areas affected by fires. The courser lays up to 3 camouflaged eggs in a simple ground indentation, with both parents sharing incubation duties for 25-27 days. Chicks are cared for by both parents and are speckled in appearance for camouflage.

Similar Species

In flight, the Bronze-winged Courser may be confused with lapwings due to similar underpart coloration and body size.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists of ground-dwelling insects, such as grasshoppers. The courser forages at night in a plover-like manner, pecking at the ground while walking or running.

Conservation status

The Bronze-winged Courser is classified as Least Concern. It benefits from the establishment of nature and game reserves within its range. However, accurate population estimates are challenging, and the species is at risk from traffic and predation.

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Bronze-winged Coursers on Birda

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