This genus consists of a well-marked group of birds, commonly known as Pratincoles, but called Swallow-Plovers by Jerdon. The latter name is appropriate, for the species resemble Swallows both in some details of structure and in flight. They keep much to river-beds and the borders of tanks and backwaters, they feed on insects, and lay from 2 to 4 eggs in, a small hollow in the sand, without, as a rule, any lining. They possess to a remarkable extent the habit, common to many Plovers, of feigning inability to fly in order to distract the attention of men, and probably of animals, from their eggs and young, a favourite ruse with Glareola being to lie prone on the ground with wings extended.
In this genus the bill is short, broad, and rather high at the base ; the culmen much arched and the gape wide ; the nostril is in a depression at the base of the bill; wings long and narrow, generally when closed extending some distance beyond the tail; 1st primary longest; tarsus short, scutulate before and behind; hind toe well developed, raised above the anterior toes at the base; lateral toes short, the outer and middle toe united by a short web; claws long, that of the middle toe distinctly pectinated on the inner margin.
'Nine species of Glareola are known, inhabiting the greater part of the Eastern hemisphere: of these three occur in India, two of which belong to the typical section of the genus with forked tails ; the third, with the tail almost even, is by many placed with five other species in a distinct genus, Galactochrysea.
Key to the Species.
a. Tail deeply forked; wing 7-8 inches.
a1. Outer tail-leathers exceed median pair by 0.75-1.25 inches…………………………G. orientalis, p. 214.
b1. Outer tail-feathers exceed median pair by 1.5-2.5 inches…………………………G. pratincola, p. 216.
b. Tail nearly even ; wing under 6 inches…………………………G. lactea, p. 216.