Bird Families

Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata)


Sometimes the hazel grouses are classified as a suborder in the pigeon-like order. Birds of dense constitution, belly, undertail and wing lining are white.

Males and females are colored differently, there are age differences. The male has a chestnut head, black chin and throat, a red “ribbon” runs along the chest, bounded by two black stripes, the top is with yellow spots, on the wing coverts there are brown streaks bordered with white. The female's chin and throat are white, the upper body is in black and white transverse stripes. In both sexes, the middle tail feathers are elongated, the tarsus is feathered up to the toes.

Notes (edit)

  1. Boehme R.L., Flint V.E
    ... A five-language dictionary of animal names. Birds. Latin, Russian, English, German, French. / Edited by Acad. V.E.Sokolova. - M .: Rus. lang., "RUSSO", 1994. - P. 95. - 2030 copies. - ISBN 5-200-00643-0
  2. "Reserves of Central Asia and Kazakhstan" (edited by R.V. Yashchenko). Protected natural areas of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Issue 1. "Tethys", Almaty. 2006.352 p.

Black-bellied sandgrouse

Black-bellied sandgrouse differs from the white-bellied short tail and black belly and sides. Breeds in North Africa, Turkey and western Asia, in Europe it is found only on the Iberian Peninsula. (In Russia, it occasionally nests in the Lower Volga and Caspian regions.)

Night grouse

Resident of Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Outwardly it looks like a white-bellied sandgrouse. The pattern on its back is bright, from a black and white spot.

Black-faced sandgrouse

The species is common in savannas in eastern Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Somalia, Uganda). The size of this population is stable and includes three subspecies. The bird is colored brownish-brown, the back is variegated.

Striped sandgrouse

Lives in South Asia. The plumage color is variegated, brown-white.

Yellow-throated sandgrouse

The distribution area of ​​the species is the African continent. It is distinguished by an ocher color, spotted on the back, and a yellow throat, separated by a pronounced black stripe.

South African Sandgrouse

The bird is about 28 cm long and weighs up to 200 g. Does not exhibit sexual dimorphism. The plumage on the head is beige with a white stripe that continues above the chest. The wings are brown, spotted.

The species is common in southern Africa, in semi-deserts and deserts.


SUBORDER: Grouse (Pterocles)

Suborder grouse

(Pterocles) consists of only one family of sandgrouses or
(Pteroclidae), whose representatives have adapted to life in the desert. The homeland of hazel grouses is a treeless and poor vegetation plain. They are easily hidden from view thanks to the protective plumage, which is always colored in the color of the environment. The fritters are very mobile, despite the dense build, which is masked by a long tail, which gives them a slenderness. The body of sandgrouses is short, the chest is very convex, the head is small, the neck is of medium length, the beak is short, slightly bent at the crest. The legs are small with short, poorly developed toes and short, blunt and wide nails. The wings have very short humerus and very long flight feathers. The tail is tapered in a wedge-shaped manner, since both middle feathers are longer than the others. The general color of the grouse plumage is predominantly sandy in color.

Grouse are found only in the Old World, mainly in Africa. Usually flocks of sandgrouses keep together for many months and only during the mating season break up into small flocks, and then into pairs. Eggs are laid in holes dug in the sand. Chicks are hatched twice under favorable conditions.After the hatching of the children, the sand grouses, together with young birds, join in flocks and live a common life until the new clutch.

The most interesting in the group of sandgrouses is the representative of the genus steppe chickens

(Syrrhaptes), similar to other sand grouses, but differing from them in the following features. In their wing, the first flight feather at the end is strongly elongated and pointed, so that this part of the feather looks like a bristle, the feet to the end of the toes are densely covered with short combed feathers, there are only three toes, since the back one is completely absent, the front toes are very widened and in their entire length connected by a membrane, as a result of which the foot, when viewed from below, is a solid sole with horny warts.

Of the steppe chickens living within the USSR, it is known saja

(Syrrhaptes paradoxus), reaching a length of 39 centimeters, excluding the length of the middle tail feathers. She has the upper part of the head, the stripe running from the eyes to the sides of the neck, and the neck is ash-gray, the forehead, wide stripes above the eyes and the throat are clay-yellow, the chest and sides of the chest are grayish-pinkish-gray and separated from the goiter by three or four rows of thin white and black lines, the upper part of the abdomen is brownish-black, the lower part of the abdomen and lower tail coverts are light ash-gray, the back is clay-yellow with dark transverse stripes, the flight feathers are ash-gray, the front ones with a black border outside, hind feathers with a grayish border on the inside, shoulder feathers are brownish, yellow in front and with a white border at the tip, the lower cover feathers of the wings are sandy-brown with black-brown spots at the ends, tail feathers are yellow with dark stripes, feathers covering the paws, whitish yellow. The female differs from the male in the absence of a pectoral stripe and in the spotted rather than striped plumage of the upper side.

Saja (Syrrhaptes paradoxus)

Within the USSR, saja is found as a sedentary bird in the steppes from the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea to Dzungaria, inclusive, and in the west it is rarely found north of 46 degrees, in the east it is found much further north, namely in the mountainous steppes of Altai along the upper reaches of the Chui River. In addition, saja is found in our Urals, and has also lived as a sedentary bird since the 50s of the last century not only in the Lower Volga, but also in the Don steppes.

These steppe chickens from time to time migrate from country to country in huge masses. So, saja has repeatedly appeared in Western Europe, for example, in the same 50s of the XIX century, these birds were seen in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Great Britain. Such migrations are spontaneous, and the masses of birds irresistibly strive to the shores of the German Sea, from where they fly further to the west, they gradually perish all along the way, and their surviving remains perish in the ocean. The reasons for these relocations are not clear. However, in western Europe, despite the repeated occurrence of such arrivals, saji do not live.

The clutch of sajas consists of 4 eggs of light greenish-gray or dirty-brownish-gray color with thin earthy-brown streaks. They arrange nests right on the ground in pits or depressions, the edges of the nests are sometimes lined with grasses. They hatch chicks twice a year.

In captivity, saji are made by hand and fed with grain of wheat. Their gait is waddling. Their cry can be conveyed by the words: "kekerik" or "geluk geluk". They are not at all sensitive to cold and snow, and the most severe winter is spent in the outer part of the cages overlooking the yard.

Genus grouse proper

(Pterocles) differs from saji in the structure of the legs and wings. The legs are four-fingered, the toes are connected by a membrane only at the base. The male and female are colored differently.

One of the species of this genus - khata

(Pterocles alchata) - found within the USSR. The predominant color of the plumage of these sandgrouses is sandy color, their forehead and cheeks are rusty-brown, the throat and a thin bridle going from the eyes to the back of the head are black, the lower part of the neck, the back of the head and back are brownish-gray-green with yellow spots on the tips of the feathers ,small integumentary feathers are blood-red with a grayish bloom, a wide rusty-brown stripe stretches on the upper part of the body, turning first into light yellow, then into dark brown stripes, large integumentary feathers are greenish-gray-yellow with black-brown edges, area the throat is light yellow with a reddish tint, the upper part of the breast is bright brick-colored, bounded above and below by narrow black stripes, the abdomen is white, the flight feathers are gray with black trunks, the tail feathers are gray with white tips, the elongated tail feathers are greenish-yellow-gray ... The female is similar in color to the male, but differs in the abundance of small transverse stripes on the upper part of the plumage, a double neck stripe and a white throat. The eyes are brown, the beak is lead-gray, the legs are brownish. The length of the bird, counting the elongated tail feathers, is 37 centimeters.

Khata (Pterocles alchata), 3/8 present magnitudes

Another kind - ganga

black-bellied sandgrouse
(Pterocles arenarius) - differs from the white-bellied black abdomen, the ocher color of the chest, which is separated from the goiter by a black belt, and a black triangular spot on the throat, circled above and on the sides in a bright rusty color. The length of this bird is 35 centimeters.

Both species live in approximately the same localities. In European countries, these sandgrouses are constantly found only in Spain, but both species are native to Africa and Asia.

Ganges or black-bellied sandgrouse is widespread in the Iberian Peninsula and in northwestern Africa, as well as in southwestern and central Asia, and in our country in southern Siberia and in the European parts of the USSR adjacent to Asia. Khata or white-bellied sandgrouse nests in southwestern Europe, northern Africa and southwestern Asia, and here in the Aral-Caspian lowland.

All sandgrouses live exclusively in deserts or steppes; they appear in the fields only after the harvest. Their favorite habitat is the plains covered with dry and hard grass, especially the neglected fields. With a light and beautiful gait, the sand grouses resemble more chicken than hobbling pigeon birds. Their noisy and impetuous flight with frequent flaps of their wings is partly reminiscent of the flight of pigeons, but more like the flight of plovers. Their cry can be conveyed by the sounds of "khata", "khadda" and "glitch". The first two screams are emitted loudly during the flight, the last one is soft and gentle when running on the ground. Grouse, in addition, can inflate like pigeons.

They lead the following way of life. Before the day comes, they start to call each other. When it dawns so much that it becomes possible to distinguish objects, sandgrouses are already running between low tufts of grass, looking for food. If no one bothers them, then they continue these classes continuously until 9 am. At this time, they fly to the watering hole, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes later, depending on the season. Within one hour, several thousand flock to the water, if the area is poor in water, then you can see how these thousands of birds, crowding together, are located near some puddle. If the country is irrigated by several rivers, the sand grouses break up into flocks and occupy all places convenient for watering. After quenching their thirst, the birds rest, and their entire mass, enjoying peace, lies in the sand and in dug holes and digests food, usually they lie with their belly pressed against the sand, sometimes they lie on one or the other side, opening their wings in turn and exposing them to the rays of the sun. To see the sandgrouses when they lie on their belly, especially when they are pressed against the ground, you need to have extremely sharp eyesight; in this position, the color of the plumage completely merges with the color of the surrounding soil.

Sandgrouses feed almost exclusively on various seeds, and they stuff the goiter with them to such an extent that the feathers covering it from the outside stick out to the sides.

Their clutch consists of 3 or 4 yellow-gray eggs with dark spots and stains; these eggs, like the birds themselves, can hardly be distinguished by the eye against the background of the surrounding soil.

It is much easier and more profitable to catch sandgrouses than to hunt them with a gun.Grouse, possessing short legs, never voluntarily cross large stones, but most willingly run on smooth ground, therefore, if you lay a path to the water, laying stones in two rows so that the birds can walk along the path, and put a snare on it, then you can catch a large number of sandgrouses at one time. In captivity, sandgrouses survive quite well and become completely tame. how to make bumper protection yourself 4.


In May-June, 2–3 eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents (females during the day, males at night) for 19–23 days. Chicks of brood type of development, leave the nest after 4 weeks. One clutch per year. Ryabok lives and feeds on the ground. Its food is based on seeds, buds, shoots and other parts of plants. Vocalization is varied, but screams mainly in flight, with some urges it remotely resembles partridges.

Interesting fact... For the inhabitants of arid zones, finding water is becoming a huge problem. Grouse fly daily to sources located at a distance of several tens, and sometimes hundreds of kilometers. Having reached the watering hole, the flock descends directly onto the water and begins to “greedily” drink it in suction gulps. Parents bring water to chicks in the goiter and abdominal plumage, from which they squeeze it out with their beaks.


  • Deposited nucleotide sequences in the database EntrezNucleotide
    , GenBank, NCBI, USA: 103 801 (accessed March 14, 2015).
  • Deposited protein sequences in the database EntrezProtein
    , GenBank, NCBI, USA: 27,265 (as of March 14, 2015).

Most of the deposited sequences belong to the yellow-throated grouse (P. gutturalis

) Is the genetically most studied representative of the genus.
In 2014, sequencing of the complete genomic sequence of a representative of the genus, the yellow-throated grouse (P. gutturalis

). Due to the relatively good build quality of the genome
P. gutturalis
, the species is important in comparative genomics to elucidate the evolution of avian genomes.


Birds feed mainly on grains found on the ground. Since the food is very dry, the birds need a lot of water, so they repeatedly fly to the watering hole every day, which can be located at a distance of up to 50 km from the nesting site. They submerge their feathers in water and come back. There young birds pass wet feathers of their parents through their beak.


The area of ​​distribution of the black-bellied sandgrouse extends from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa in the Mediterranean to Central Asia and further east to the northwest of India and Nepal. Populations in Asia Minor migrate to the Arabian desert regions for the winter. The bird dwells on the ground, avoiding open desert areas [source not specified 2795 days

]. Most often, Black-bellied Sandgrouse can be found in wide open spaces near agricultural sown areas. [
source not specified 2795 days