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  1. 225 Photo by Neon Tomas Buenaflor Rosell II
  2. 225_0 Photo by Neon Tomas Buenaflor Rosell II
  3. 225_1 Photo by Neon Tomas Buenaflor Rosell II

Oriental Pratincole

Glareola maldivarum


  • Colour: Olive-brown above, pale buff-grey to white below.  White rear end of body ending in short, black-forked white tail.  Legs are dark grey.  Black line around the white-edged buff throat.
  • Size: 23 – 24 cm.


  • Call: Tern like “Kyik”.
  • Diet: Although classed as waders they typically hunt their insect prey on the wing, like swallows, around dusk or dawn. They can also feed on the ground.
  • Flight: Elegant in flight with easy fluid wingbeats, swoops and twists.
  • Breeding: Breeds in Pakistan, India, parts of south-east Asia, China, Japan and Phillipines.  Migrates to spend November to March in northern Australia.

What to Observe

  • Calling
  • Feeding

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Changes in rainfall in northern Australia may affect the insect population which is a prey for this species.  Decreases in rainfall have seen increases in the grasshopper population and reports of record populations of Oriential Pratincole and other migrant waders in coastal areas.

When To Look

  • Late October to early April, when it migrates to northern Australia.

Where To Look

  • Large flocks can be found in northern Australia around plains, wetlands where clouds of insects accumulate and sometimes around bushfires or open areas around tidal flats, beaches and wetlands.
  • Sometimes individuals and small flocks can be found in southern parts of Australia.

Oriental Pratincole Occurence ALA



Morcombe M 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds, Revised Edition. Steve Parish Publishing, Brisbane

Pizzey G & Knight F 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Australian Pratincole (Stilitia isabella): has a similar shape but much longer legs, finer wingtips, warmer rufous-buff tones and spends more time on land.

  1. Did You Know?

    On the 7th of February 2004, 2.88 million Oriental Pratincoles were recorded on Eighty Mile Beach in Australia's north-west by the Australasian Wader Studies Group. Previously, the world population was thought to be around 70,000 and it is supposed that weather conditions caused much of the world's population of this species to congregate in one area.

    It tends to squat low and well concealed in rough ground or small depressions including impressions from stock hooves.