Monday, December 5

Pallas's sandgrouse

   ›      ›   Pallas's sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus.

The Pallas's sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) belongs to the sandgrouse family, Pteroclididae.

These species of sandgrouse are distributed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Mongolia and China. These sandgrouse species are vagrant visitors to several European countries and Indian subcontinent. The Pallas's sandgrouse is named to commemorate Peter Simon Pallas (22 September 1741 – 8 September 1811), a German zoologist and botanist. These birds are monotypic species.

Pallas's sandgrouse - Overview

  • Scientific name: Syrrhaptes paradoxus
  • Species author: (Pallas, 1773)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Tetrao paradoxa Pallas, 1773
  • Family: Pteroclididae › Pteroclidiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Pallas's sandgrouse, Chinese: 毛腿沙鸡, French: Syrrhapte paradoxal, German: Steppenflughuhn, Spanish: Ganga de Pallas, Russian: Саджа, Japanese: サケイ
  • Other names: Pallas' Sandgrouse
  • Distribution: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Mongolia, China
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, green shoots, grains, cereals
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
Syrrhaptes paradoxus is closely related to Syrrhaptes tibetanus (Tibetan sandgrouse).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Pallas's sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) is a medium sized bird measuring about 40 cm in length. These species are sexually dimorphic. The male is larger than the female and weighs around 250 to 300 grams, whereas the female weighs around 200 to 250 grams. The long wings are pointed and the wingspan is 60 to 70 cm.


These sandgrouse species have a small, pigeon-like head and neck. The body is compact and sturdy. The plumage is buff colored and the upperpart is barred. In female sandgrouse the plumage is paler and the upperpart barring is more intense. The central tail feathers are long and pin-like. The face, throat and sides of the neck are orange. The bill is short and creamy yellow in color. The irises are black.

The Pallas's sandgrouse has small feet which lack a hind toe. The three front toes have feathers on the upperside and have a fleshy pad underneath. These front toes are fused together, a characteristic of the genus Syrrhaptes (from Ancient Greek surrhaptos, "sewn together"). The foot appears more like a "paw' than a bird foot. The sandgrouse call in flight is a repeated “chup” sound.

The range of the two species in the genus Syrrhaptes overlap and they may not be easily distinguished while foraging. However, they can be easily distinguished while flying. The sandgrouse species Syrrhaptes tibetanus (Tibetan sandgrouse) has white belly and black underwings whereas the species Syrrhaptes paradoxus (Pallas's sandgrouse) has a black belly and whitish underwings. These sandgrouse species are gregarious and fly in large flocks to watering holes at dawn and dusk.
Indian birds - Image of Pallas's sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus
Birds of India - Picture of Pallas's sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus
Birds of India - Image of Pallas's sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus
Indian birds - Pallas's sandgrouse female - Syrrhaptes paradoxus
Indian birds - Pallas's sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus
Birds of India - Image of Pallas's sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Pallas's sandgrouse is distributed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Mongolia and China. Vagrant sandgrouse are spotted in several European countries, India, Japan and South Korea.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of Pallas's sandgrouse in Kazakhstan are, Altyn-Emel National Park, Ili River Delta, Irgiz-Turgay Lakes, Sagyz and Zhusandala. The IBA in Mongolia are, Galba Gobi and Khasagt Khairkhan Mountain. The IBA of these sandgrouse species in Uzbekistan are, Aksay Lake and surrounding desert, Buzaubay, Dzheiran Ecocentre, Northern part of the Assake-Audan depression and Northern shore of Aydarkul Lake.

Ecosystem and habitat

The Pallas's sandgrouse species do not normally occur in forest. They inhabit various ecosystems with low, sparse vegetation of grasses or shrubs. They inhabit dry steppe, semi-desert, temperate desert, temperate shrubland, fallow land and abandoned agricultural fields. These species also occur in hilly terrain and mountain valleys with sparse vegetation.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of the Pallas's sandgrouse is mostly seeds, grains, tender shoots and cereals. They fly in large flocks of several thousand birds to watering holes at dawn and dusk sometimes covering distances of 120 km or more in a day. The male sandgrouse may soak their breast feathers with water and on return to nest, the nestlings may suck up water from the feathers.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these sandgrouse species is from April to June. The nest is a scrape on the ground, sometimes sheltered by grass or shrub. The clutch contains 2 to 3 eggs. Both the parents take part in nestling care.

Migration and movement patterns

These Pallas's sandgrouse species are partially migratory birds. In winter they move southward of their range to avoid snow. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding. These sandgrouse species have been recorded to move in irregular irruptions from their regular breeding and wintering range to Europe.


Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the Pallas's sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be stable. Their generation length is 5.6 years.

The Pallas's sandgrouse does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Pallas's sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Syrrhaptes paradoxus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Pteroclidiformes
Family:Pteroclididae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Syrrhaptes
Species:S. paradoxus
Binomial name:Syrrhaptes paradoxus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Syrrhapte_paradoxal.jpg
Image author: Tomju48 | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/4633684790/
Image author: Sergey Yeliseev | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 2016-12-05)
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/5905170280/
Image author: Sergey Yeliseev | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 2016-12-05)
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