Thursday, 2 December 2010

Tibetan sandgrouse

Syrrhaptes tibetanus

Photo by Manjula Mathur (Forum Zoologist)

Common name:
Tibetan sandgrouse (en); cortiçol-do-Tibete (pt); syrrhapte du Tibet (fr); ganga tibetana (es); Tibetflughuhn (de)

Order Pterocliformes
Family Pteroclidae

This Asian species is found in and around the Tibetan plateau, from the Kashmir and Pamir mountains of Pakistan and Tajikistan in the west, east to the Chinese provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan, and north to the Chinese mountains of Astin Tagh and Nan Shan.

This large sangrouse is 30-41 cm long and can weigh up to 500 g.

They occur in high altitude (3500-5000 m), barren, stony semi-deserts. In some areas they move to lower elevation in winter.

The Tibetan sandgrouse feeds on seeds, grasses, buds and legumes.

This species breeds in May-June. The female lays 3 pale brown eggs with cryptic markings in a depression on bare stony ground. Sometimes the nest may be protected by a stone or grass. The eggs are incubated for 20-25 days, the males incubate during the night and the females incubate during the day. The precocial chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are able to feed themselves, but the parents will protect and warm them for the next few weeks.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The Tibetan sandgrouse has a large breeding range and is reported to be common within that range. Although the population is believed to be declining in some areas, the species is not considered threatened at present.

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