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the web of life in southern Africa

Rhinoptilus africanus (Double-banded courser) 

[= Smutsornis africanus

Dubbelbanddrawwertjie [Afrikaans]; Segolagola, Segelegwele [Tswana]; Dubbelbandrenvogel [Dutch]; Courvite double collier [French]; Doppelband-rennvogel [German]; Corredor-de-duas-golas [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

Rhinoptilus africanus (Double-banded courser)  Rhinoptilus africanus (Double-banded courser)
Rhinoptilus africanus (Double-banded courser) 

Double-banded courser. [photo Gerhard Theron ]

Double-banded coursers (top photo taken in the Tanqua Karoo, South Africa, while the bottom one was taken in Namibia).  [both photos Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in two separate areas of sub-Saharan Africa, in Somalia and Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally fairly common in Namibia, Botswana, and central South Africa, generally preferring open plains with short grass and patches of bare ground adjacent to pans, shrublands, stony or gravelly semi-desert, dry and flat riverbeds and eroded or overgrazed grassland.

Distribution of Double-banded courser 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). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Mainly resident, although it may local movements in search of more dry areas, such as the Kalahari.


It mainly eats insects, especially ants, Northern harvester termites (Hodotermes mossambicus) and beetles (Coleoptera), doing most of its foraging by running after prey and jabbing at them its bill.


  • Monogamous solitary nester, performing a courtship display in which the male dances in semi circles around the female with short hopping steps.
  • The eggs are placed directly on bare ground (as in the photo below), sometimes with a ring of pebbles,  plant matter or antelope droppings surrounding them.
Rhinoptilus africanus (Double-banded courser)  

Double-banded courser incubating its egg, Aggeneys, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from August-December.
  • It lays a single egg, which is incubated by both sexes for about 25 days, changing shifts every 1.5-2.0 hours.
  • The chick leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, although staying close to the nest until 3-4 days old, at which point it joins its parents. Both adults feed the chick with small insects until it fledges at about 5-6 weeks old.


Not threatened, in fact it is common and widespread and has benefited from overgrazing and erosion in certain areas.


  • 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.