A photo of a Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella)
Australian Pratincole

Australian Pratincole

Stiltia isabella

The Australian pratincole (Stiltia isabella) is a species of bird in the family Glareolidae. It breeds in Australia's interior; it winters to northern and eastern parts of the continent, Indonesia and New Guinea. It is a medium-sized nomadic shorebird which is commonly found in arid inland Australia. It breeds predominantly from south-western Queensland to northern Victoria and through central Australia to the Kimberley region in Western Australia. The Australian population is estimated at 60,000 individuals. They are a migratory species that generally move to the southern parts of their distribution range to breed during spring and summer. During winter they migrate to northern Australia, New Guinea, Java, Sulawesi and southern Borneo to over-winter. Although they are common, their occurrence is unpredictable and varies in location. The Australian pratincole is a medium-sized slender shorebird with long legs, long pointed wings and a short decurved bill. The sexes look alike however their breeding and non-breeding plumage differs. In breeding plumage the head, neck, breast and upperparts are a sandy brown grading. The wings are pointed and black and there is a black loral strip. The chin and throat are white and the breast is a sandy brown. The bill is bright red with a black base and the iris is dark brown. Legs and feet are grey to black. The non-breeding plumage is not well known as there are also effects from seasonal and individual variation. The loral stripe is fainter than when in breeding plumage and the base of the bill is paler. The upperparts are grey-brown with sandy-buff fringes. Sometimes there are dark flecks at the borders of the pale throat. Juveniles are similar to a non-breeding adult but a slightly paler sandy brown colour. The lores lack the black colour and the forehead, crown and nape are streaked dark brown. The bill is grey-black with a faint reddish base. In flight, the upperbody and inner wing are sandy brown with black on the outer wing. The tail is square-cut with the upper-tail coverts and sides of the tail white.
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Simon Bradfield
Wednesday 21 Aug 2002 - 12:00am
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