This small family of waders is charcterised by slender bodies and long wings; the pratincoles also have very short legs. They are charcteristic of open semi-desert habitat in Africa, Asia and Australia. Partly to avoid the heat of the day, they are mostly crepuscular or nocturnal, as might be deduced from their large eyes, which are used to find small insects on the ground. They are gregarious, and often nest in small, loose colonies.
All the species that occur in Britain are vagrants from Asia.