This bird typically lives in small colonies, although outside of the breeding season these can expand to considerably larger flocks (5). It is an insectivore, most active at dawn and dusk, when it feeds predominantly on grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and beetles (3). Usually feeding in a flock, the collared pratincole zigzags gracefully through swarming insects (3) (4), plucking prey from the air with an elegance comparable to that of a swallow. However, it is also a fast runner and is often able to hunt successfully without taking to the air (5).
Breeding takes place annually, when the collared pratincole constructs a nest at a location chosen for its safety from predators (3), such as a small island in a lake, or on a sandbank or mudflat (3). The nest itself can be any dent in the earth, even a hoof-print (3). Hundreds of breeding pairs may nest together, although birds that get too close to their neighbours are often seen as intruders and will be warned off with a threatening pose (3). Within 19 days of the eggs being laid, the chicks will have hatched and can run almost immediately, but do not fledge until about a month later. It takes only a year for an individual to reach sexual maturity (3). In September, after the breeding season, the European and Asian colonies migrate to the warmer climates of Africa, returning to the breeding areas in March (3).
Pratincoles have a strange method of distracting predators from the nest; if harassed enough, the bird will fall to the ground and act as if one or both of its wings are broken, often trailing a wing behind as it walks. This behaviour will cause a predator to turn its attention to the adult and away from the nest (3).