The genus of Grouse - Pterocles - includes birds noticeably larger than saji, weight ranges from 410 to 550 g. It differs from other sand grouses by longer legs, a short tail and a black belly clearly visible in flight (black-footed sand grouse). white sandgrouse, smaller, about the size of saju, its weight is 225-290 g. In general appearance, flight pattern and many habits it resembles our other sandgrouses, but we can clearly distinguish them from them in flight with a white belly.
The grouse is a very social bird, which, although it nests alone, feeds, flies to watering places and spends the entire non-nesting period in groups and flocks.
Description of the bird
Birds are predominantly terrestrial, but at the same time they fly actively and well.
All species of the order have a grouse-like dense constitution, the body tapers towards the end, the head is small with a small beak on a short neck, the legs are short, the wings are long and narrow, the tail is medium in size. The weight of sandgrouses is from 300 to 500 g.
Bird feathers are dense, plumage is dense. The color is dominated by ocher and yellow tones, as well as variegated patterns that differ in different species of hazel grouses.
A characteristic feature of birds is the absence of a hind toe due to a terrestrial lifestyle. Sandgrouses never land on branches of trees and bushes.
Nutritional features of sandgrouses
Grouse are granivorous birds. They eat seeds, green parts of plants. They can also feed on terrestrial invertebrates, since the birds find all their food exclusively on the ground.
To soften dry food, sandgrouses need a large amount of drinking water. Therefore, at least twice a day, birds fly to water. At the same time, they can fly away from their nesting sites by 50 km or more.
They drink hazel grouses, like doves, with their beak completely submerged in water. For the chicks, the parents bring water in the crop. Sandgrouses can also submerge feathers in water and then pass them through the chicks' beak to provide them with sufficient water.
Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata)
The bird reaches 40 cm in length, the wingspan is about 65 cm. The plumage is painted yellow or ocher, on the back it is decorated with a variegated pattern of spots of gray, brown or ocher colors. The tummy of sandgrouses is grayish-yellow, in males it is brighter than in females.
Sandgrouse differs from related species in two black stripes located on the chest and goiter, as well as in the presence of a black spot under the beak. The tip of the tail is white.
The species lives in the south of Europe, in the north of Africa and in the south-west of Asia, in deserts and steppes. Winters in the Sahara.
Night Sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus)
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 (Pterocles decoratus)
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 (Pterocles indicus)
Lives in South Asia. The plumage color is variegated, brown-white.
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse (Pterocles gutturalis)
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 (Pterocles namaqua)
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.
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)
The body length of this species ranges from 30 to 35 cm, the wingspan is up to 65 cm. This is one of the largest species of sandgrouse.
The body of the black-bellied sandgrouse is very similar to pigeons, dense and compact. The male has a black tummy, the back is gray with a pattern of yellow-brown or reddish. The plumage on the head and neck is gray. The neck is chestnut with a bright dark spot in the form of a triangle. The chest is yellow-brown with a clearly outlined black stripe. Females differ from males in a large number of stripes on the head and neck. During the flight, the bird emits a rolling trill "tyurrr-re-ka".
The range of the black-bellied sandgrouse includes the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, the Mediterranean, Central Asia, and even India and Nepal. Populations living in Asia Minor migrate to the Arabian deserts for the winter.
For life, black-bellied sandgrouses choose open desert areas, often next to agricultural land.
Birds are well adapted to life in waterless deserts. They fly well, so nests are often set up at long distances from water bodies.
BLACK PANEL FINISH (Pterocles orientalis)
The black-browed fish (Pterocles orientalis) is noticeably larger than the saji, its weight ranges from 410 to 550 g. It is very similar to other sandgrouses, but differs from them in longer legs, a short tail and a black belly that is clearly visible in flight. We can also distinguish well from other sandgrouses by a peculiar cry, which can be rendered as “turner-turner”. The Black-bellied Sandgrouse is a very social bird, which, although it nests alone, feeds, flies to the watering hole and spends the entire non-breeding period in groups and flocks. In the male black-bellied sandgrouse, the upper side of the body is dark gray, the throat and sides of the neck are buffy-chestnut, the throat is separated from the goiter by a black stripe. Craw and forechest are pinkish-gray, hindchest separated from the anterior by a black stripe, ocher-gray. The belly and sides of the body are brownish or brownish-black. The color of the plumage in the female is dimmer. Black-bellied sandgrouse is widespread in the Canary Islands, the Iberian Peninsula, in North Africa, in most of Minor, Western and Central Asia, in the Volga region, Volga region, in the southern half of Kazakhstan, in the foothills of Altai and in North-Western Xinjiang. In the north of the range, it is migratory, in the south it is sedentary. Inhabits deserts, semi-deserts and steppes with clay and sandy soils, overgrown with wormwood and grasses. It enters the rubble foothills and the outskirts of the cultural landscape. In spring, sandgrouse nesting sites arrive quite early, at different dates in March, and only in places - in the first half of April. He flies in small flocks - usually no more than 20 individuals in each. During the spring migration, well-pronounced pairs are often observed in flocks, which are formed, apparently, during wintering or during migration. Some time after arrival, mating games can be noted, during which the male flies with a cry after the female or walks around her. However, birds start breeding relatively late. The first eggs are found approximately one and a half to two months after arrival. Black-bellied sandgrouse does not make real nests. The eggs are laid in a deepening of the soil or on a clay area, without a special bedding. In clutch there are usually 3, less often 2 eggs from light gray to light olive color with dark specks. Egg sizes: 44-49 × 30-34 mm. The entire clutching period is very extended, nests with eggs are found throughout June, in July and later. Whether this is due to repeated clutches after the death of the first or to the presence of two clutches in the hazel grouse per year has not yet been clarified. Birds begin to incubate immediately after the first egg appears. Both the male and the female take part in this process. It lasts about a month. Birds sit especially zealously on the nest in the second half of incubation. At this time, in case of danger, they take the enemy away from the nest. In mid-June, chicks appear, in July they begin to flutter, and in early August they fly well. In belated clutches, broods appear later. In some years with unfavorable conditions, hazel grouses do not nest. In an unusually dry spring, the females were found to have degeneration of the eggs that had already begun to develop. In August, wandering flocks of sandgrouses begin to meet. They gradually increase in size and roam widely in the desert. At this time, hazel grouses often visit the harvested fields, where they pick up the crumbled grain. Flocks often number hundreds, and sometimes thousands of birds, but groups of no more than a few dozen individuals fly to the watering hole. Autumn migrations gradually turn into migration, which takes place in September - October. The black-bellied sandgrouse feeds mainly on plant food - seeds and shoots of steppe and desert plants - wormwood, hodgepodge, camel thorn, etc., as well as grains of cultivated cereals. Eats insects in small numbers. He regularly drinks water, flying out in the morning and evening to drink. Old birds watered chicks, belching water, and found up to a glass of water in the stomachs of birds caught at the watering hole. Black-bellied sandgrouse belongs to the number of hunting birds. He is hunted with a gun, most often at watering holes. In many places, excessive hunting has led to a strong decline in the number of this species. Measures are needed to protect it and, above all, a ban on hunting at some watering holes.
Reproduction of sandgrouse
During the non-nesting period, sandgrouses live in large flocks, and they also go in flocks to water.
During the nesting period, from early May to July, birds form pairs, as they are monogamous species. Clutch usually consists of three eggs, occasionally two. As a nest, sandgrouses dig shallow pits in the ground under the bushes, which are lined with grass. At night, the males incubate the clutch, in the morning and afternoon - the females.
Chicks hatch covered with light fluff, develop and leave the nest quickly, three weeks after birth they are already completely independent. They begin to get food themselves even earlier, and only water is brought to them by their parents.
Sandgrouse do not take root in captivity, so their breeding is not practiced. But birds remain a valuable hunting object, therefore, careful attention to the number of natural populations of these birds is required.
Excerpt from White-bellied Sandgrouse
The movement of peoples begins to fit into their shores. The waves of great movement have receded, and circles are formed on the calm sea, along which diplomats rush, imagining that they are the ones who produce the lull of the movement. But the still sea suddenly rises. It seems to diplomats that they, their disagreements, are the reason for this new pressure of forces, they are waiting for a war between their sovereigns, the situation seems to them insoluble. But the wave, the rise of which they feel, rushes not from where they expect it. The same wave rises from the same starting point of movement - Paris. The last spurt of the movement from the West is taking place, a spurt that should resolve the seemingly insoluble diplomatic difficulties and put an end to the belligerent movement of this period. The man who devastated France, alone, without a conspiracy, without soldiers, comes to France. Each watchman can take it, but, by a strange accident, no one not only does not take it, but everyone greeted with delight the person who was cursed a day ago and will be cursed in a month. This man is still needed to justify the last cumulative action. The action is complete. The last role has been played. The actor is told to undress and wash off the antimony and blush: he will no longer be needed. And several years pass in the fact that this man, alone on his island, plays in front of himself a miserable comedy, petty intrigues and lies, justifying his actions, when an excuse is no longer needed, and shows the whole world what it was, what people took for strength when an invisible hand led them. The manager, after finishing the drama and undressing the actor, showed him to us. - Look what you believed! Here it is! Do you see now that it was not he, but I who moved you?