Jerdon's courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus is a nocturnal cursorial bird that is now only known from a small area of scrub jungle in Andhra Pradesh, India. Its population size, distribution and habitat requirements are poorly known because of its elusive habits. We conducted a trial of a survey method that involved deploying an array of 5 m long tracking strips consisting of smoothed fine soil, and checking them for footprints at regular intervals. We developed diagnostic methods for distinguishing the footprints of Jerdon's courser from those of other species. Tracks of Jerdon's courser were obtained on about one strip-night in 30 from areas where the species was known to be present. We suggest a procedure for using tracking strips to survey areas where Jerdon's courser has not yet been detected. The use of tracking strips carries a small risk of misidentification of footprints of other species, especially yellow-wattled lapwing Vanellus malarbaricus, as those of Jerdon's courser, but has the advantage that large areas can be surveyed without the use of expensive equipment or night-time fieldwork. We recommend the use of automatic camera traps to obtain confirmation of records of probable Jerdon's courser footprints.
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