Also known as the common pratincole or red-winged pratincole.
This pratincole is 24–28 cm long with a 60–70 cm wingspan. It has short legs, long pointed wings, a long forked tail, and a short bill, which is an adaptation to aerial feeding. The back and head are brown, and the wings are brown with darker flight feathers. The belly is white. The underwings are chestnut, but look dark below.
Very good views are needed to distinguish this species from other pratincoles, such as the black-winged pratincole and the oriental pratincole, which may occur in its range. The latter species also has a chestnut underwing, but is shorter-tailed.
Distribution and Habitat
The collared pratincole is a bird of open country, and is often seen near water in the evening, hawking for insects. It is found in the warmer parts of Europe, southwest Asia and Africa. It is migratory, wintering in tropical Africa, and is rare north of the breeding range.
It inhabits swamps, marshes and other freshwater reservoirs, coastal brackish and salt lagoons and salt pans, irrigated areas, arable land, pastures, seasonally flooded agricultural land and more.
It is a nesting-migratory species in Bulgaria. Safe nesting has been established along the Danube River and along the Black Sea coast, mainly in the Burgas wetlands. It is also found in the interior – the Thracian lowlands, Pleven, Svishtov.
Pratincoles are unusual among waders in that they typically hunt their insect prey on the wing like swallows, although they can also feed on the ground. They feed on insects and thus reduce the number of annoying mosquitoes and flies in the area of lakes and swamps. They like to eat hard-winged insects and their larvae. Pratincoles prefer to feed on locusts in June – July.
These small birds are monogamous, like eagles. They form small dilute colonies. The mating games are from the middle, and the construction of the nests – from the end of April. The nest is a small pit among low and sparse grass vegetation. It lays eggs (2–4) in mid-May. The young hatch in early June. The young remain in the nest for 2-3 days after hatching, then hide in the surrounding vegetation.
The typical behavior of the red-winged pratincole, as well as all other birds that nest on the ground, is to pretend to be wounded when enemies approach their nests. In this way, they attract attention to themselves and divert the threat from their future generation. When they feel people approaching their nests, they are often greeted with alarming sounds, flying over them and even diving.
In Bulgaria: endangered species, protected under the BDA, included in the CCB. Most of the nesting sites have been declared protected areas and are being monitored. International: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)