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the web of life in southern Africa

Rhinoptilus cinctus (Three-banded courser) 

Driebanddrawwertjie [Afrikaans]; Driebandrenvogel [Dutch]; Courvite à triple collier [French]; Bindenrennvogel [German]; Corredor-de-três-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 cinctus (Three-banded courser)  Rhinoptilus cinctus (Three-banded courser)

Three-banded courser, Tanzania. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Three-banded courser, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Ethiopia and Somalia through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and southern Angola to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally common in Zimbabwe,  northern Namibia, eastern Botswana and Limpopo Province. It generally prefers dry, open Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) woodland, as well as miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, arid savanna and habitats with open patches created by African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

Distribution of Three-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

Not well understood, it is thought to be predominantly resident in southern Africa. However, it has been suggested that this population is supplemented by an influx of non-breeders from up north in late summer and early spring.


Its diet has not been studied, but it probably mainly consists of insects, foraging nocturnally and often along dirt roads.


  • Probably a monogamous solitary nester, digging a deep scrape in the ground beneath a bush or tree, lined with gravel, friable soil and small twigs.
  • Egg-laying season is from April-November, peaking from August-October.
  • It lays two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 25-27 days, in shifts of roughly 90-120 minutes.
  • The chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, remaining with their parents beyond the end of the breeding season.


Not threatened, as there is no evidence that its range has contracted, although destruction of Acacia woodland in Zimbabwe is cause for concern.


  • 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.