The cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) is a tall, slender bird with a relatively long, pointed, down-curved beak, a short tail, distinctly long legs and a characteristic upright stance (3) (4). As the name suggests, the body is largely pale cream or sandy in colour, with a white lower belly and sharply contrasting black wing tips and black underwings, which are visible in flight. The head is strikingly marked with a black stripe from the eye to the back of the neck, bordered above by a white stripe, and has a bluish-grey crown (2) (3) (5). The beak is black and the legs and feet are yellowish-white (2). The pale belly, which does not contrast sharply with the rest of the underparts, helps distinguish the cream-coloured courser from other Cursorius species (2) (5). Juvenile cream-coloured coursers have a more mottled, scaly-looking back and a less conspicuous head pattern than the adult (2) (3).
The cream-coloured courser was previously split into five subspecies: Cursorius cursor cursor, Cursorius cursor exsul, Cursorius cursor bogolubovi, Cursorius cursor somalensis and Cursorius cursor littoralis (2). These differ in size, colouration and the presence and extent of darker colouration on the belly (2). However, the smaller, darker subspecies of East Africa, C. c. somalensis and C. c. littoralis, are quite distinct and are now classified together as a separate species, the Somali courser (Cursorius somalensis) (5).
- Length: 19 - 22 cm (2)
- 102 - 156 g (2)