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Jerdon's Courser, Rhinoptilus bitorquatus   

Red List Category & Criteria: CR C2a(ii) ver 3.1 (2001)
Year Assessed: 2004 Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Evaluator/s: Tobias, J., Crosby, M., Peet, N., Collar, N. & Benstead, P.
(BirdLife International Red List Authority)
Justification: This recently rediscovered and poorly known species qualifies as
Critically Endangered as a result of its single, small, declining population, which is thought
to be threatened by exploitation of scrub-forest, livestock grazing, disturbance and quarrying.
History: 1988 - Threatened (Collar and Andrew 1988)
1994 - Endangered (Collar, Crosby and Stattersfield 1994)
2000 - Critically Endangered (BirdLife International 2000)
IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 10 April 2008.

Photo: ©Simon Cook
The Jerdon's Courser, Rhinoptilus bitorquatus, belongs to the pratincole and courser family
Glareolidae. The bird was named after the zoologist Thomas C. Jerdon who discovered it in 1848.
It was rediscovered in 1986 by Bharat Bhushan, an ornithologist at the Bombay Natural History
Society after being thought to be extinct.

Photo: http://www.wii.gov.in
(not valid as per Sept. 2010)
This courser is a restricted-range endemic found locally in India in the Eastern Ghats of
Andhra Pradesh. It is currently only known in the Sri Lankamalleshwara Sanctuary,
inhabiting a sparse scrub forest interspersed with patches of bare ground.


It is an unmistakable compact courser, with two brown breast-bands. It has a yellow bill with a black tip, a blackish crown, broad buff supercilium, and orange-chestnut throat patch. In flight it shows a mostly black tail and a prominent white wingbar. It is a crepuscular bird and is known to be vocal at dawn and dusk with in a series of staccato Twick-too...Twick-too... Twick-too calls.

Photo: ©P. Jeganathan
Read the story: Digging a Grave for the Jerdon's Courser
click here for redirection to

This bird was known only from a few historical records and was thought to be extinct until its
rediscovery in 1986. It remains critically endangered due to loss of habitat.
It is nocturnal in habit and presumed to be insectivorous.
Being a rare bird, nothing is known yet about its behaviour and nesting habits.

Population estimates for the bird vary from 25 to 200. Recent studies have made use of
techniques such as tracking strips where the footprints may be recorded.

Following the construction of the Somasilla dam, 57 villages were relocated
into the region where the Courser was rediscovered. These areas of Lankamalai, Palgonda and Seshachalam were previously not well populated.
With the rising population here, there is also livestock pressure and firewood extraction.
In addition extensive quarrying threatens the habitat.

In December 2005, the only known location for the species was threatened by a canal construction
project which threatened to destroy and alter the habitat of the species.
(The Telagu-Ganga canal that would have passed through one of these protected areas was realigned
in response to lobbying that it would fragment habitat.)

The area has also been threatened by illegal construction work and activities related to a project proposed to link the rivers of India.

Text: http://en.wikipedia.org

Three additional sites for Jerdon's courser have been discovered in recent years, all within 14 km
of the original rediscovery site. Unfortunately, one of these sites has already been destroyed
by the recent canal construction.
Furthermore, because population survey work on this elusive species is at an early stage,
other sites where the species has not yet been detected may well be destroyed by further
construction work. These direct losses of habitat will undoubtedly diminish an already
critically small population.


over 250


over 500


over 225
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