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Black-bellied Sandgrouse
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Pteroclididae
Genus: Pterocles
Species: P. orientalis
Binomial name
Pterocles orientalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

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 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.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse is 33-39 cm long. 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 to the lower breast, and a chestnut throat patch. The female has browner, more finely marked upperparts, and this general coloration includes the head and breast. The underparts and breast band are as for 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 stocky compact body. It has long pointed wings and a fast direct flight. The white underwings and black belly make this species obvious in flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn.

The call is a soft chowrrr rrrr-rrrr.

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Pterocles orientalis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 7 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  • Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse by Madge and McGowan, ISBN 0-7136-3966-0
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