Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii), Nechisar - Yabelo, Ethiopia (male)

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)The sandgrouse are distributed across northern, southern and eastern Africa as well as Madagascar; the Middle East, India through to central Asia; and the Iberian Peninsula; where they are restricted to treeless open areas, such as plains and semi-deserts.



Sandgrouse have compact bodies, but small, pigeon-like heads and necks. The different species range in length from 24 – 40 cm and weigh from 150 – 500 g.

Males and females look alike, except the males are slightly larger.

They have long pointed wings and short legs that are feathered down to the toes, and members of the genus Syrrhaptes also have feathered toes.

Diet and feeding

Sandgrouse mostly feed on seed and are often seen in large feeding flocks with up to 100 birds.



Sandgrouse are monogamous (form life-long pair bonds). They make their nest on a slight depression in the ground. The average clutch consists of 2 eggs, occasionally up to 4. The male and female share the incubation duties; with the male incubating during the night and early mornings, and the female taking over during the day.

The young hatch after about 20 – 25 days; and are able soon able to leave the nest.

They are able to feed themselves from the day they hatch, but have to learn foraging skills from their parents for several months.


Black-faced Sandgrouse, Pterocles decoratus, Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, Africa Recognized Subspecies

  • Genus Syrrhaptes
    • Tibetan Sandgrouse, Syrrhaptes tibetanus
    • Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Syrrhaptes paradoxus
  • Genus Pterocles
    • Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Pterocles alchata
    • Namaqua Sandgrouse, Pterocles namaqua
    • Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Pterocles exustus
    • Spotted Sandgrouse, Pterocles senegallus
    • Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pterocles orientalis
    • Crowned Sandgrouse, Pterocles coronatus
    • Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Pterocles gutturalis
    • Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Pterocles burchelli
    • Madagascar Sandgrouse, Pterocles personatus
    • Black-faced Sandgrouse, Pterocles decoratus
    • Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Pterocles lichtensteinii
    • Double-banded Sandgrouse, Pterocles bicinctus
    • Painted Sandgrouse, Pterocles indicus
    • Four-banded Sandgrouse, Pterocles quadricinctus

Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Pterocles gutturalis

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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