Sandgrouse is the common name for Pteroclidae, a family of sixteen species of bird, members of the order Pteroclidiformes. They are traditionally placed in two genera. The two central Asian species are classified as Syrrhaptes and the other fourteen species, from Africa and Asia, are placed in the genus Pterocles. They are ground dwelling birds restricted to treeless, open country, such as plains, savannahs and semi-deserts. They are distributed across northern, southern and eastern Africa, Madagascar, the Middle East and India through to central Asia. The ranges of the black-bellied sandgrouse and the pin-tailed sandgrouse extend into the Iberian Peninsula and France, and Pallas's sandgrouse occasionally breaks out in large numbers from its normal range in Asia.

Double-banded Sandgrouse
Double-banded sandgrouse
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Columbimorphae
Order: Pterocliformes
Huxley, 1868
Family: Pteroclidae
Bonaparte, 1831
  • Gerandia Lambrecht, 1933
  • Archaeoganga Mourer-Chauviré, 1992
  • Leptoganga Mourer-Chauviré, 1993
  • Pterocles Temminck, 1815
  • Nyctiperdix Roberts, 1922
  • Calopterocles Roberts, 1922 non Gmelin
  • Syrrhaptes Illiger, 1811
  • Pteroclidae
  • Pterocleidae


Sandgrouse have small, pigeon-like heads and necks and sturdy compact bodies. They range in size from 24 to 40 centimetres (9.4 to 15.7 in) in length and from 150 to 500 grams (5.3 to 17.6 oz) in weight. The adults are sexually dimorphic with the males being slightly larger and more brightly colored than the females. They have eleven strong primary feathers and long pointed wings giving them a fast direct flight. The muscles of the wings are powerful and the birds are capable of rapid take off and sustained flight. In some species, the central feathers in the tail are extended into long points. The legs are short and members of the genus Syrrhaptes have feathers growing on both the legs and toes and no hind toes, while members of the genus Pterocles have legs feathered just at the front, no feathers on the toes and rudimentary hind toes raised off the ground.[1] The plumage is cryptic, generally being in shades of sandy brown, grey and buff, variously mottled and barred, enabling the birds to merge into the dusty landscape. There is a dense layer of under down which helps insulate the bird from extremes of heat and cold. The feathers of the belly are specially adapted for absorbing water and retaining it, allowing adults, particularly males, to carry water to chicks that may be many miles away from watering holes.[2][3] The amount of water that can be carried in this way is 15 to 20 millilitres (0.5 to 0.7 fluid ounce).[4]


Syrrhaptes paradoxus 1
Pallas's sandgrouse in a field in the Gobi Desert

Members of the genus Syrrhaptes are found in the steppes of central Asia. Their range extends from the Caspian Sea through southern Siberia, Tibet and Mongolia to northern and central China. They are normally resident, but Pallas's sandgrouse can be locally migratory and very occasionally is irruptive, appearing in areas well outside its normal range. This happened in 1863 and 1888, and a major irruption took place in 1908 when many birds were seen as far afield as Ireland and the United Kingdom where they bred in Yorkshire and Moray.[3][4]

Members of the genus Pterocles are mainly found in the drier parts of northern, eastern and southern Africa though the range of some species extends into the Middle East and western Asia. The Madagascar sandgrouse is restricted to Madagascar. The black-bellied sandgrouse and the pin-tailed sandgrouse also occur in Spain, Portugal and southern France. Most species are sedentary though some make local migrations, typically to lower altitudes in winter.[4]

Behaviour and ecology

Diet and feeding

Sandgrouse flock
Namaqua sandgrouse are gregarious and feed and drink in large flocks

Sandgrouse are principally seed eaters. Other food items eaten include green shoots and leaves, bulbs and berries. Insect food such as ants and termites may be eaten especially during the breeding season.[1] The diet of many sandgrouse is highly specialised, with the seeds of a small number of plant species being dominant. This may depend on local availability but in other cases it reflects actual selection of favoured seeds over others by the sandgrouse. Seeds of leguminous plants are usually an important part of the diet. In agricultural areas oats and other grain are readily taken. Seeds are either collected from the ground or directly from the plants. Foraging techniques vary between species that coexist which reduces competition; in Namibia, double-banded sandgrouse feed slowly and methodically whilst Namaqua sandgrouse feed rapidly, exploring loose soil with their beaks and flicking it away sideways.[5] Grit is also swallowed to help grind up food in the gizzard.[1]

Sandgrouse are gregarious, feeding in flocks of up to 100 birds. As a consequence of their dry diet, they need to visit water sources regularly. Drinking times vary among the species. Ten species drink at dawn, four at dusk and two at indeterminate times.[1] When drinking, water is sucked into the beak which is then raised to let the water flow down into the crop. By repeating this procedure rapidly, enough water to last twenty four hours can be swallowed in a few seconds.[1] As they travel to water holes, they call to members of their own species and many hundreds or thousands synchronise their arrival at the drinking site despite converging from many different locations scattered over hundreds of square miles (kilometres) of territory.[6]

They are vulnerable to attack while watering but with a large number of birds milling about, predators find it difficult to select a target bird and are likely to have been spotted before they can get close to the flock.[3] The choice of a watering site is influenced by the topography of the nearby ground. The sandgrouse tend to avoid sites with cover for mammalian predators and their greatest risk is usually from predatory birds.[7] Sandgrouse travel tens of miles to their traditional water holes and tend to disregard temporary water sources which may appear periodically. This probably has a survival value because a dried up water source in an arid region could result in dehydration and death.[3] The Burchell's sandgrouse in the Kalahari Desert sometimes travels over 100 miles (160 km) daily to reach a water source.[4] Not all species need to drink every day, and the Tibetan sandgrouse does not need to travel to drink because of the abundance of water from melting snowfields in its habitat.[3]


Painted sandgrouse chick
Chick of painted sandgrouse

Sandgrouse are monogamous. The breeding season usually coincides with a crop of seeds after the local rainy season and at this time, the feeding flocks tend to break up into pairs. The nesting site is a slight depression in the ground, sometimes lined with a few pieces of dry foliage. Most typically, three cryptic eggs are laid, though occasionally there may be two or four. Incubation duties are shared and in most species, the males incubate at night while the females sit on the eggs during the day. The eggs usually hatch after 20–25 days. The precocial chicks are covered with down and leave the nest as soon as the last hatchling has dried out. The parents do not provide them with food and they learn, with parental guidance, what is edible and what is not. The chicks obtain their water from the soaked downy feathers on the adults breasts. At first the chicks are too small and young to thermoregulate, and are provided with shade during the hottest part of the day and brooded at night. They remain with their parents, as a family group, for several months.[2]


The Pteroclidae was formerly included in the Galliformes due to the similarities the family shares with the true grouse. However, it was later discovered that these similarities are superficial and a result of convergent evolution.[8] Sandgrouse were later placed near the Columbiformes largely due to their reported ability to drink by the "sucking" or "pumping" action of peristalsis of the esophagus, an unusual characteristic.[9] More recently, it has been reported that they cannot suck up water in this way,[10] and they are now treated separately in the order Pteroclidiformes. They have been considered near passerine birds and are considered by some to be closer to the shorebirds (Charadriiformes).[11]

In the DNA-study by Fain and Houde (2004)[12] they were included in the Metaves, together with the Columbiformes. In the larger study by Hackett et al. (2008)[13] they were once again positioned close to the Columbiformes, in Columbimorphae, but also with the Mesites. The intricately patterned, precocial downy young and egg colouration (though not shape) closely resemble those of many Charadriiformes. Eggs are near elliptical.[13]


Living Pteroclidiformes based on the work by John Boyd.[14]


Pterocles alchata (Linnaeus 1766) (pin-tailed sandgrouse)


N. decoratus (Gabanis 1868) (bridled/black-faced sandgrouse)

N. bicinctus (Temminck 1815) (double-banded sandgrouse)

N. quadricinctus (Temminck 1815) (four-banded sandgrouse)

N. indicus (Gmelin 1789) (painted sandgrouse)

N. lichtensteinii (Temminck 1825) (close-barred/Lichtenstein's sandgrouse)


Calopterocles burchelli (Sclater 1922) (Burchell's sandgrouse)


S. gutturalis (Smith 1836) (yellow-throated sandgrouse)

S. personatus (Gould 1843) (Masked/Gould's/Madagascan sandgrouse)

S. coronatus (Lichtenstain 1823) (Crowned sandgrouse)

S. senegallus (Linnaeus 1771) (Spotted sandgrouse)

S. namaqua (Namaqua sandgrouse)

S. exustus (Temminck 1825) (lesser pin-tailed/Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse)

S. orientalis (Black-bellied sandgrouse)

S. tibetanus Gould 1850 (Tibetan sandgrouse)

S. paradoxus (Pallas 1773) (Pallas's sandgrouse)


Common and binomial names[15] Image Description, range and status Egg
Pin-tailed sandgrouse
Pterocles alchata
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Pterocles alchata 1921
Length 31 to 39 centimetres (12 to 15 in)
There are two subspecies:[16]
P. a. alchata – Spain, Portugal, France, north west Africa
P. a. caudacutus – Middle East, Turkey and eastward to Kazakhstan

Status: Least concern
Ganga cata MHNT
Double-banded sandgrouse
Pterocles bicinctus
Temminck, 1815
Pterocles bicinctus -Northern Cape, South Africa -male-8
Length 31 to 39 centimetres (12 to 15 in)
There are three subspecies:[17]
P. b. ansorgei – south west Angola
P. b. bicinctus – Namibia, Botswana, north west Cape Province
P. b. multicolor – Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Transvaal

Status: Least concern
Burchell's sandgrouse
Pterocles burchelli
Sclater, 1922
Pterocles burchelli 1
Length 25 cm (10 in)
Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa

Status: Least concern
Crowned sandgrouse
Pterocles coronatus
Lichtenstein, 1823
Pterocles coronatus 1921
There are five subspecies:[19]
P. c. atratus – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan
P. c. coronatus – Sahara, Morocco to Red Sea
P. c. ladas – Pakistan
P. c. saturatus – Oman
P. c. vastitas – Sinai, Israel, Jordan
Status: Least concern
Black-faced sandgrouse
Pterocles decoratus
Cabanis, 1868
Tanzania 0607 cropped Nevit
There are three subspecies:[20]
P. d. decoratus – south east Kenya and east Tanzania
P. d. ellenbecki – north east Uganda, north Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia
P. d. loveridgei – west Kenya, west Tanzania

Status: Least concern
Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse
Pterocles exustus
Temminck, 1825
(Pictured on left)
Pterocles sp
There are six subspecies:[21]
P. e. ellioti – Sudan, Eritrea, north Ethiopia, Somalia
P. e. erlangeri – Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, Yemen
P. e. exustus – Mauritania to Sudan
P. e. floweri – Egypt (almost certainly extinct)
P. e. hindustan – south east Iran, Pakistan, India
P. e. olivascens – south Ethiopia, Kenya, north Tanzania
Status: Least concern
Yellow-throated sandgrouse
Pterocles gutturalis
Smith, 1836
Pterocles gutturalis
There are two subspecies:[22]
P. g. gutturalis – south Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa
P. g. saturatior – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, north Zambia

Status: Least concern
Painted sandgrouse
Pterocles indicus
Cabanis, 1868
Pterocles indicus 1921

Status: Least concern
Pterocles indicus's egg
Lichtenstein's sandgrouse
Pterocles lichtensteinii
Temminck, 1825
Pterocles lichtensteinii
There are five subspecies:[24]
P. l. targius – Sahara, Sahel, south Morocco to Chad
P. l. lichtensteinii – Israel, Sinai, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia
P. l. sukensis – Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya
P. l. ingramsi – Yemen
P. l. arabicus – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan
Status: Least concern
Namaqua sandgrouse
Pterocles namaqua
(Gmelin, 1789)
Pterocles namaqua -Kalahari-8-4c
Length 31 to 39 centimetres (12 to 15 in)
Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa

Status: Least concern
Black-bellied sandgrouse
Pterocles orientalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Pterocles orientalis Naumann
There are two subspecies:[26]
P. o. arenarius – Kazakhstan, Pakistan and western China
P. o. orientalis – Northwest Africa, Canary Islands, Iberian Peninsula,
Cyprus, Middle East, Turkey and Iran

Status: Least concern
Ganga unibande MHNT
Madagascan sandgrouse
Pterocles personatus
Gould, 1843


Status: Least concern
Four-banded sandgrouse
Pterocles quadricinctus
(Temminck, 1815)
Pterocles quadricinctusEYP19A
Length 25 to 28 centimetres (9.8 to 11.0 in)
Central Africa

Status: Least concern
Ganga quadribande MHNT
Spotted sandgrouse
Pterocles senegallus
(Linnaeus, 1771)
Pterocles senegallus 1921
Length 33 centimetres (13 in)
Northern Africa, Middle East and western Asia

Status: Least concern
Ganga tacheté MHNT
Tibetan sandgrouse
Syrrhaptes tibetanus
(Gould, 1850)
Syrrhaptes tibetanus 1921
Length 30 to 41 centimetres (12 to 16 in)
Mountains of central Asia, Tibet and central China

Status: Least concern
Pallas's sandgrouse
Syrrhaptes paradoxus
(Pallas, 1773)
Syrrhaptes paradoxus Thorburn
Length 30 to 41 centimetres (12 to 16 in)
Mountains and steppes of central Asia

Status: Least concern
Syrrhapte paradoxal MHNT

Relations with humans

Sandgrouse have little interaction with people, primarily because most species live in arid unpopulated areas and at low densities. They are not generally sought after as game birds as they are not especially palatable, although they have on occasion been taken in great numbers at water holes. An attempt to introduce them into Nevada failed but they have been introduced to Hawaii.[32] No species is considered to be threatened although there have been some localised range contractions, particularly in Europe.[33] A subspecies of the chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, P. e. floweri, was last seen in the Nile Valley of Egypt in 1979. It is thought to be extinct, but the reasons for this are unknown.[34]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Campbell, Bruce; Lack, Elizabeth (1985). A Dictionary of Birds. Buteo Books. p. 520. ISBN 0-931130-12-3.
  2. ^ a b Crome, France H.J. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 114–115. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e Gooders, John (ed) (1979). Birds of Heath and Woodland: Pteroclidae: Sandgrouse. London: Orbis Publishing Ltd. pp. 2–11. ISBN 0-85613-380-9.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b c d "Pteroclidae Sandgrouse". Creagrus: Bird Families of the World. Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  5. ^ "Pterocles namaqua (Namaqua sandgrouse)". Biodiversity. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  6. ^ Ward, P. (1972). "The functional significance of mass drinking flights by sandgrouse (Pteroclididae)". Ibis. 114 (4): 533–536. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1972.tb00854.x.
  7. ^ Ferns, P. N.; Hinsley, S. A. (1995). "Importance of Topography in the Selection of Drinking Sites by Sandgrouse". Functional Ecology. 9 (3): 371–375. doi:10.2307/2389999. JSTOR 2389999.
  8. ^ Maclean, G. L. (1967). "Die systematische Stellung der Flughühner(Pteroclididae)". Journal of Ornithology. 108 (2): 203–217. doi:10.1007/BF01671410.
  9. ^ Lorenz, K. (1939). "Verhandl". Deutsch. Zool. Ges. 41 (Zool. Anz. Suppl. 12): 69–102.
  10. ^ Cade, T. J.; Willoughby, E. J.; Maclean, G. L. (1966). "Drinking Behavior of Sandgrouse in the Namib and Kalahari Deserts, Africa" (PDF). The Auk. 83 (1).
  11. ^ Crome, F. H. J.; Hutchins, M.; Thoney, D. A.; McDade, M. C., eds. (2004). Birds II: Columbiformes (Pigeons, Doves, and Dodos) Vol 9; 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale. pp. 241–246.
  12. ^ Fain, Matthew G.; Houde, Peter (2004). "Parallel radiations in the primary clades of birds". Evolution. 58 (11): 2558–2573. doi:10.1554/04-235. PMID 15612298.
  13. ^ a b Hackett, Shannon J.; et al. (2008). "A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History". Science. 320 (5884): 1763–1768. doi:10.1126/science.1157704. PMID 18583609.
  14. ^ Boyd, John (2007). "METAVES I Columbimorphae, Eurypygimorphae" (PDF). John Boyd's website. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  15. ^ del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J., eds. (1997). Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Editions. ISBN 84-87334-22-9.
  16. ^ "Pin-tailed sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  17. ^ "Double-banded sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  18. ^ "Burchell's sandgrouse (Pterocles burchelli)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  19. ^ "Crowned sandgrouse (Pterocles coronatus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  20. ^ "Black-faced sandgrouse (Pterocles decoratus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  21. ^ "Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  22. ^ "Yellow-throated sandgrouse (Pterocles gutturalis)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  23. ^ "Painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  24. ^ "Lichtenstein's sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  25. ^ "Namaqua sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  26. ^ "Black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  27. ^ "Madagascan sandgrouse (Pterocles personatus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  28. ^ "Four-banded sandgrouse (Pterocles quadricinctus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  29. ^ "Spotted sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  30. ^ "Tibetan sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  31. ^ "Pallas's sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus)". The Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  32. ^ "Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse". Ultimate Upland. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  33. ^ "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". 2012.1. IUCN. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  34. ^ Hume, J. P.; Walters, M. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: A & C Black. p. 133. ISBN 1-4081-5725-X.

External links

Black-bellied sandgrouse

The black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family.

The nominate race breeds in Iberia, northwest Africa, the Canary Islands, Turkey, Iran, Cyprus and Israel. The eastern form P. o. arenarius (Pallas, 1775) is found in Kazakhstan, western China and northern Pakistan. It is a partial migrant, with central Asian birds moving to the Pakistan and northern India in winter.

This gregarious species breeds on dry open plains and similar habitats, but unlike the pin-tailed sandgrouse, it avoids areas completely lacking in vegetation. Its nest is a ground scrape into which three greenish eggs with cryptic markings are laid. Both sexes incubate, but only the male brings water.

The black-bellied sandgrouse is 33–39 cm (13–15 in) long and weighs 300–615 g (10.6–21.7 oz). The male has a grey head, neck, and breast. The underparts are black and the upperparts are golden-brown with darker markings. There is a thin black border around the lower breast, and a chestnut throat patch.

The female has browner, more finely marked upperparts, including the head and the breast. The underparts and breast band are identical to the male.

The eastern race is paler and heavier than orientalis. Males have yellower upperparts and greyer underparts than the western form. Females are whiter below, but often inseparable.

This sandgrouse has a small, pigeon like head and neck, but a stocky compact body. It has long pointed wings and a fast direct flight. The white underwings and black belly make this species easy to identify while in flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn.

The call is a soft chowrrr rrrr-rrrr.

Black-faced sandgrouse

The black-faced sandgrouse (Pterocles decoratus) is a species of bird in the Pteroclididae family.

It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Burchell's sandgrouse

Burchell's sandgrouse (Pterocles burchelli) is a species of bird in the family Pteroclididae. It is found in arid and semi-arid regions of southern Africa. The name of this bird commemorates the English naturalist William John Burchell.

Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

The chestnut-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus) is a species of sandgrouse. They are found in sparse, bushy, arid land which is common in central and northern Africa, and southern Asia. Though they live in hot, arid climates, they are highly reliant on water. They have been known to travel up to 80 kilometres (50 mi) in one day in search of water. All species of sandgrouse that have been studied in habitat have proved to be entirely vegetarian throughout their lives, specialising in leguminous weed seeds and seldom eating grass seeds.

In the 1960s many birds were captured using clap traps from Rajasthan in India and introduced into Nevada. They have also been introduced to Hawaii.A subspecies, P. e. floweri, was last seen in the Nile Valley of Egypt in 1979. It is thought to be extinct, but the reasons for this are unknown.


Columbaves is a clade that contains Columbimorphae (pigeons, mesites, and sandgrouse) and Otidimorphae (bustards, cuckoos, and turacos) discovered by genomic analysis. This conflicts with the Columbea and Otidae hypotheses which Mirandornithes are the sister taxon to Columbimorphae and Cypselomorphae the sister taxon to Otidimorphae respectively. Neither hypothesis supports the two subdivisions of Metaves and Coronoaves as previous studies had found.


Columbimorphae is a clade discovered by genome analysis that includes birds of the orders Columbiformes (pigeons and doves), Pteroclidiformes (sandgrouses), and Mesitornithiformes (mesites). Previous analyses have also recovered this grouping, although the exact relationships differ. Some studies indicate a sister relationship between sandgrouse and pigeons (the traditional view) while other studies favor a sister grouping of mesites and sandgrouse instead.

Crowned sandgrouse

The crowned sandgrouse (Pterocles coronatus) is a species of bird in the sandgrouse family, the Pteroclididae from North Africa and the Middle East.

Double-banded sandgrouse

The double-banded sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus) is a species of ground-living bird in the family Pteroclididae. It is found in arid parts of southern Africa.

Four-banded sandgrouse

The four-banded sandgrouse (Pterocles quadricinctus) is a medium-sized bird in the sandgrouse family.

It breeds in a belt across Africa from Mauritania and Cameroon east to Sudan and Uganda. It is much more common in the west of its range. It is a partial seasonal migrant, with some birds moving further north in the rainy season.

This gregarious species breeds on open areas with some trees, including savanna, scrubland and similar habitats. Its nest is a ground scrape into which 2 or 3 buff eggs with brown markings are laid. Both sexes incubate.

The four-banded sandgrouse is 25–28 cm long. Its head, neck and upperparts are yellowish-green, with the back heavily marked with brown. The male has black and white bands on its forehead as well as black and white bands separating the breast from the heavily barred belly. The female lacks the head and breast bands and is heavily barred on the back and flanks.

This sandgrouse has a small, pigeon-like head and neck, but a sturdy compact body. It has long pointed wings, which are grey underneath, a short tail and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes in the evening to drink and are largely nocturnal.

The call is a loud wulli-wulli, and there is much twittering at the drinking holes.

Lichtenstein's sandgrouse

The Lichtenstein's sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii) is a species of bird in the Pteroclididae family, which is named after Martin Lichtenstein. They are nomadic, mostly nocturnal birds, which drink before dawn and after dusk.

Madagascan sandgrouse

The Madagascan sandgrouse (Pterocles personatus) is a species of bird in the family Pteroclididae. It is endemic to Madagascar and is a ground-dwelling short-legged plump bird. The head of the male is brown with a black area surrounding the beak. He has a pinkish-buff coloured breast, a light brown mottled back, brown wings and paler underparts barred with dark brown. The female has a generally duller appearance being cryptically coloured brown with dark specks and bars.

Namaqua sandgrouse

The Namaqua sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua), is a species of ground-dwelling bird in the sandgrouse family. It is found in arid regions of south-western Africa.

Painted sandgrouse

The painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus) is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family found in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Pallas's sandgrouse

The Pallas's sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family named after the German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. The genus Syrrhaptes is from surrhaptos, "sewn together" (the feathered toes of both species in the genus are fused together) and paradoxus is from paradoxos, "strange".


Passerea is a clade of neoavian birds that was proposed by Jarvis et al. (2014). Their genomic analyis recovered two major clades within Neoaves, Passerea and Columbea, and concluded that both clades appear to have many ecologically driven convergent traits.

According to Jarvis (2014), these convergences include the footpropelled diving trait of grebes in Columbea with loons and cormorants in Passerea; the wading-feeding trait of flamingos in Columbea with ibises and egrets in Passerea; and pigeons and sandgrouse in Columbea with shorebirds (killdeer) in Passerea. For Jarvis (2014), these long-known trait and morphological alliances suggest that some of the traditional nongenomic trait classifications are based on polyphyletic assemblages.

Passerea was not recovered in other studies.

Pin-tailed sandgrouse

The pin-tailed sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata) is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family. It has a small, pigeon like head and neck and a sturdy, compact body. It has long pointed wings, which are white underneath, a long tail and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn. The call is a loud kattar-kattar. This gregarious species breeds on dry open treeless plains and similar habitats. Its nest is a ground scrape into which two or three cream-coloured eggs with cryptic markings are laid. Both sexes incubate the eggs.

The pin-tailed sandgrouse is about 35 centimetres (14 in) long. Its head and upperparts are yellowish-green. The underparts are white with a chestnut breast band separating the belly from the green neck. Sexes are somewhat similar, but the female is better camouflaged and has a shorter tail than the male. There are two subspecies; P. a. alchata breeds in southern Europe and P. a. caudacutus breeds in northwestern Africa, the Middle East and southeastern Asia. It is a partial migrant, with some Asian birds moving to the Middle East and northern Pakistan in winter. Males of the eastern race have duller underparts than the European birds, and the females have white, rather than yellow, wing coverts.

Spotted sandgrouse

The spotted sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus) is a species of ground dwelling bird in the family Pteroclididae. It is found in arid regions of northern and eastern Africa and across the Middle East and parts of Asia as far east as northwest India. It is a gregarious, diurnal bird and small flocks forage for seed and other vegetable matter on the ground, flying once a day to a waterhole for water. In the breeding season pairs nest apart from one another, the eggs being laid in a depression on the stony ground. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and eat dry seed, the water they need being provided by the male which saturates its belly feathers with water at the waterhole. The spotted sandgrouse is listed as being of "least concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in its Red List of Threatened Species.

Tibetan sandgrouse

The Tibetan sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus ) is a large bird in the sandgrouse family. The genus name Syrrhaptes is from Ancient Greek surrhaptos, "sewn together" (the feathered toes of this sandgrouse are fused together) and tibetanus is from the type locality, Tibet.

Yellow-throated sandgrouse

The yellow-throated sandgrouse (Pterocles gutturalis) is a species of bird in the family Pteroclididae.

Birds (class: Aves)
Fossil birds
Human interaction

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