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Black-bellied sandgrouse

Pterocles orientalis

Photo by David Lanza (Ornito Addiction)

Common name:
black-bellied sandgrouse (en); cortiçol-de-barriga-preta (pt); ganga unibande (fr); ganga ortega (es); sandflughuhn (de)

Order Pterocliformes
Family Pteroclidae

This species is found in the Iberian Peninsula, in north-west Africa from southern Morocco to north-western Libya, and in south-eastern and central Asia from Turkey, Cyprus and north-eastern Egypt, through Iraq and Iran and into southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and north-western China. The central Asian population migrate south to winter in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and north-western India. There are also resident populations in the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

These birds are 30-40 cm long and have a wingspan of 60-75 cm. They weigh 300-480 g.

The black-bellied sandgrouse is mostly found in dry grasslands and scrublands, also using arable land and desert areas.

They feed mainly on seeds, also taking buds, leaves and shoots of a wide range of grasses, herbs and scrubs.

Black-bellied sandgrouse breed in March-August. They nest on the ground, on a shallow depression sometimes lined with pieces of dried grasses and circled with small stones. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 21-28 days. The chicks are precocial, leaving the nest soon after hatching and being able to feed by themselves. However, they rely on their parents for drinking, with the father usually being responsible for collecting drinking water in stores in its breast feathers from where the young suck the water. they start flying 3-4 weeks after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 0,5-4 million individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

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