home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Glareola nuchalis (Rock pratincole) 

Withalssprinkaanvoël [Afrikaans]; Rotsvorkstaartplevier [Dutch]; Glaréole auréolée [French]; Halsband-brachschwalbe, Weißnacken-brachschwalbe [German]; Perdiz-do-mar-escura [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Glareolidae

Glareola nuchalis (Rock pratincole)   

Rock pratincole, Uganda. [photo s / sequella.co.uk ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to the DRC south through Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is uncommon in the far north of the region in the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), north-western Zimbabwe and northern Botswana. It generally prefers large perennial rivers with small rocky islets, especially with deep fast-flowing water.

Distribution of Rock pratincole in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Movements and migrations

Intra-African migrant, arriving in southern Africa in August to breed before eventually departing in December and January. The location of its non-breeding grounds unknown but are probably in equatorial Africa.


It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging aerially over water at dawn and dusk, especially after rains. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, solitary or loosely colonial nester, sometimes breeding in colonies of 2-16 pairs with additional non-breeding birds.
  • Typically lays its eggs on a rock ledge, under an overhang, in a hole in rock or a flat boulder, provided that there is shade for at least part of the day.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-November, peaking in October.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 20 days, in shifts of about an hour.
  • The chicks are cared leave the nest within 1-2 days of hatching, finding cover in nearby foliage where the parents feed them by regurgitation. They fledge at about 20-30 days old, becoming fully independent roughly three months later.


Of high regional conservation concern in southern Africa, largely caused by the creation of dams which either flood or drain the water level of the rivers it is dependent on.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.