Saturday, 14 July 2012

Namaqua sandgrouse

Pterocles namaqua

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)

Common name:
Namaqua sandgrouse (en); cortiçol-da-Namáqua (pt); ganga namaqua (fr); ganga de Namaqua (es); Nama-flughuhn (de)

Order Pterocliformes
Family Pteroclidae

This species is found in southern Africa, from south-western Angola, through Namibia and Botswana and into Zimbabwe and western South Africa.

These birds are 24-28 cm long and weigh 140-240 g.

The Namaqua sandgrouse is found in stony deserts, dry scrublands, sandy deserts with scattered bits of grass and dry savannas.

They mainly eat small seeds from the ground, namely Indigofera, Lotononis, Tephrosia, Requernia sphaerosperma, Limeum, Giseckia pharnacioides, Amaranthus, Cleome, Chenopodium, Lophiocarpus burchelli and several grasses and daisies. These are complemented with flowers, small fruits and fresh leaves.

Namaqua sandgrouses can breed all year round. They are monogamous, solitary nesters, nesting in a simple scrape in the ground, often lined with grit and typically placed next to a small scrub or grass tuft. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 3 weeks. The chicks leave the nest within a day of hatching and are able to feed themselves, but rely on the male for water and protection for several weeks. During this period the male flies to watering holes and soaks his belly feathers which the young drink from.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common to locally abundant in much of its range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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