pratincole (prătˈənkōlˌ) [key], common name for a large-winged shore bird including seven species in the subfamily Glareolinae of the family Glareolidae. Swift and graceful flyers, their sharply pointed, decurved bills are broad-based and open wide as adaptations for feeding on the wing. They have long wings and long, forked tails. Their diet consists primarily of grasshoppers and dragonflies. With their small, partially webbed feet, pratincoles wade rather than swim. Both sexes are similar in appearance, being 7 to 9 in. (18–23 cm) in length and generally dull brown with a white rump and tail. They are active chiefly at dusk. Three species in the genus Glareola and three in the genus Galachrysia are found from S Europe through Africa and S Asia. Stiltia isabella is the sole Australian species. Most pratincoles nest on the ground in shallow depressions or unlined scrapes. They lay from two to four smooth, oval-shaped eggs per clutch; these are dullish and colored, blending with varying soil backgrounds. Pratincoles are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Glareolidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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