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Courser, Three-banded

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Johan van Rensburg
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Courser, Three-banded

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:16 am

Three-banded Courser, Rhinoptilus cinctus

This secretive bird is generally encountered in dry thorn scrub, bushy grassland and sparse Mopane woodland. Our sighting was after an extensive search during the last of three night drives at Mapungubwe NP in the scrub bordering the riverine forest along the Limpopo.

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Large view

They are usually found singly or in pairs, less often in groups of up to six birds and are largely nocturnal. When we disturbed this bird, it flew for a short distance. How the guide saw where it landed remains a mystery to me. He backed up and we found the bird where it stood frozen in the spotlights allowing reasonable pix to be taken. Every now and then it would sneak a step towards the bush and when it eventually reached cover, it disappeared swiftly.

It roosts by day in shade of bush or tree.

Duning nighttime it feeds by catching insects on the ground.

It nests mainly in dry season, making a deep scrape under a bush or tree. A clutch of two eggs is partly buried in loose soil and incubated by both parents for about 25 – 27 days.

Although a scarce sighting in South Africa, it is wide-spread in its range north of the Limpopo.
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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Tue Oct 07, 2008 4:12 pm

Thanks for the information Johan. That's a nice little bird!
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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread postby Johann » Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:10 am

We saw a pair nesting near the Limpopo Forest Tented camp in the western section of Mapungubwe in August 2007. In the last pic you can see the two eggs in the background, just to left of the bird at about knee-height.
Seeing that they were nesting and probably less than 10m from the road we saw them basically every time we drove past the spot.

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Last edited by Johann on Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:28 pm

Wow, nice Johan :clap:
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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:33 pm

Johann :D Very lucky, and great sighting indeed...Very sought after bird, to see them nesting and more then once :thumbs_up:
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Three Banded Courser

Unread postby jgs » Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:40 am

Hi everyone
On Big Birding Day 2000, we had a wonderfull sighting of a Three Banded Courser on the Mphongolo loop on our way to Pafuri. One and only tick for me of this beauifull bird. I know there are quite frequent reports from the Pafuri region but has anyone seen this species so far down south?

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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:54 pm

Well done on a special sighting! :thumbs_up:
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Re: Three Banded Courser

Unread postby johanrebel » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:17 pm

jgs wrote:there are quite frequent reports from the Pafuri region ?
Correct, but they seem to be very picky about their preferred habitat.

Although sporadically encountered elsewhere, the vast majority of sightings in the Makuleke CNP are along a closed road called Rhino Boma (which runs more or less east from the H1-9, about 2 km north of Luvuvhu Bridge), and then specifically on a stretch some 2 km long. The vegetation here comprises of quite open shrub/woodland almost entirely dominated by Salvadora australis and Acacia tortillis. Grass cover is short and sparse, with large barren patches. The soils are alluvial.

The birds can be ridiculously common here from January through April, to the point where novice birders have a hard time believing that they are such a special sighting. A careful search will usually reveal up to a dozen birds right next to or very close to the road, day or night. They are rather confiding, freezing on approach, but cheerfully accepting a stationary vehicle at very close range. Secretive is the last thing I would call them.

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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread postby johanrebel » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:58 pm

A three-banded courser laid eggs and successfully hatched chicks last November only 40 cm from the road close to EcoTraining in the Makuleke CNP. This was in Mopane shrubveld, but the nest was under a very insignificant Acacia.

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Re: Courser, Three-banded

Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:26 am

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Re: Courser, Three-banded

Unread postby DotDan » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:55 am

Cracking find and shot buddy!! :D


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