Pallass Sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus)

Pallass Sandgrouse

[order] PTEROCLIDIFORMES | [family] Pteroclididae | [latin] Syrrhaptes paradoxus | [UK] Pallass Sandgrouse | [FR] Syrrhapte paradoxal | [DE] Steppen-Flughuhn | [ES] Ganga de Pallas | [NL] Steppehoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Pterocles paradoxus
Syrrhaptes paradoxus EU c

Physical charateristics

Pallas’s sandgrouse are medium-sized sandgrouse that range from 38 to 40 centimeters in length. Males are slightly larger than females. Males have orange backs barred with black, tawny necks, gray breasts, and black bellies. Females have barred backs and black bellies. The legs and the feet are feathered.

wingspan min.: 63 cm wingspan max.: 78 cm
size min.: 30 cm size max.: 41 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 29 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 29 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia : Central


Pallas’s sandgrouse occupy steppe, a semiarid grass-covered plain, and sandy desert habitats, often with a scrub covering. They are generally found between 1,300 to 3,200 meters during the summer, but may occupy lower elevations during the winter.


Pallas’s sandgrouse are found in large flocks during the nonbreeding season. Most populations stay in the same place throughout the year, or move short distances, but some populations migrate large distances from breeding to wintering grounds. The wings of Pallas’s sandgrouse whistle during flight. Individuals generally fly to water sometime during the morning hours. The breeding season is usually between April and June. Nests are scraped in the ground either near vegetation or out in the open. Eggs hatch after twenty-two to twenty-six days. The reproductive behavior of this species has not been studied in the wild. In captivity, only the female incubates while the male remains close by.

Feeding habits

Pallas’s sandgrouse eat primarily legume seeds. Sometimes individuals also eat the green shoots of plants.


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to 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.
Pallas’s Sandgrouse occasionally erupts from its regular breeding and wintering range across Europe as far west as Great Britain, where it has bred, and Ireland. The reasons for these remarkable movements are not fully understood, but they have become less frequent, probably due to contraction of the western Siberian range as the steppes become more agricultural.
Pallass Sandgrouse status Least Concern


Partially migratory, with extent of movement varying between years; also eruptive at times.
Not known to winter regularly in northernmost parts of breeding range, e.g. above c. 45 degrees N in Kazakhstan and Mongolia, but extent of southward movement variable and dependent on snowfall: deep snow, especially with ice crust, inhibits feeding, and this (rather than high population level) is probable cause of large-scale autumn/winter movement. In normal winters, displacements relatively short-distance, being into southern breeding range or just beyond.
Well known for remarkable (though infrequent) eruptions, in which the species has occurred across full width of Palearctic, leading to temporary expansions of breeding range and isolated nesting records far outside normal distribution. Such eruptions not cyclic, as formerly supposed. Irruptions into Europe and eastern Asia occurred in different years, indicating that local factors affected different segments of population. Irruptions into Europe included spectacular ones in spring-summer of 1863, 1888-9, and 1908, during which recorded north to Arkhangel?sk and Fenno-Scandia, and west to Faeroes, Ireland, and Spain. Flocks began reaching eastern Europe in second half of April, spreading west during May-June; in 1888, birds moving in Russia in March, and vanguard reached North Sea in late April. Some easterly return movement in late summer and autumn noted on Continent, but on much smaller scale than initial irruption. Since 1908, irruptions into Europe rarer, with only a few birds each time outside FSU. Reason for this curtailment uncertain; possibly linked to contraction of west Siberian range.

Distribution map

Pallass Sandgrouse distribution range map

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