Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

[order] PTEROCLIDIFORMES | [family] Pteroclididae | [latin] Pterocles orientalis | [UK] Black-bellied Sandgrouse | [FR] Ganga unibande | [DE] Sand-Flughuhn | [ES] Ortega | [NL] Zwartbuikzandhoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Pterocles orientalis EU sw, also n AF
Pterocles orientalis arenarius Kazakhstan to s Iran and Afghanistan, east to nw China
Pterocles orientalis orientalis Canary Is., Iberian Pen., Morocco to w Iran

Physical charateristics

Large heavy-bodied sandgrouse with relatively short tail and rather broad wings. Combination of long and broad black belly and blackish flight feathers with white under wing-coverts diagnostic. Mainly grey head and chest of male interrupted by black and chestnut throat and terminated by bold black transverse line. Female spotted on chest and irregularly barred above.

Listen to the sound of Black-bellied Sandgrouse

[audio: Sandgrouse.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 70 cm wingspan max.: 73 cm
size min.: 33 cm size max.: 35 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 22 days fledging max.: 28 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Eurasia : Southwest, also North AF


Accordingly adapted to somewhat cooler and less arid conditions than most congeners and to greater climatic variety. Differs from nearest geographic counterpart Pin-tailed Sandgrouse in ascending to higher altitudes and in greater attraction to vegetation cover, and from Lichtenstein?s Sandgrouse in dislike of trees and scrub, and generally of rough rocky terrain. Chiefly on flat plains, saltflats, and sandy, loamy, clay, or gravelly soils or dusty patches and tracks, sometimes covered with stones or varied by hummocks, hillocks, eroded slopes, or worn-down rocky outcrops. Saline or alkaline flats with scattered patches of vegetation are attractive. Occasionally occupies artificial sites such as airfields.


On the Canary Islands eggs are laid from mid-March, with most in April, but also found June. In Spain eggs are found from mid-May to late June. In Algeria and Tunisia eggs are found from early April to mid-July, in Cyprus in May. In Turkey eggs are found May-June, but in central Turkey also young chicks can be spotted as late as August.
The nest is on the ground in the open, consisting of a shallow depression, unlined or with a few pieces of dried grass; sometimes in circle of small stones.
Clutch size 2-3 eggs which are incubated 23-28 days in captivity. The checks fledge after 22-27 days.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds. Forages in flocks of 3-25 birds; larger flocks sometimes in winter. Food mainly picked up from ground but will also pluck off vegetative parts and flower heads from growing herbs or bushes.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Pterocles orientalis breeds in Iberia, the Canary Islands and parts of south-east Europe,
which together account for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its
European breeding population is relatively small (<62,000 pairs), and underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. The species continued to decline across most of its European range?including its Turkish stronghold?during 1990-2000, and underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall. Consequently, it is provisionally
evaluated as Declining.
Black-bellied Sandgrouse status Least Concern


Resident in Iberia; also largely so in North Africa, though southernmost birds move northwards away from most arid zone about July, as breeding finishes. Largely migratory from north Caspian eastwards, wintering mainly in Pakistan and north-west India.

Distribution map

Black-bellied Sandgrouse distribution range map

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