Tibetan sandgrouse

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The Tibetan Sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus) belongs to the sandgrouse family, Pteroclididae. These sandgrouse species are distributed in India, China and Tajikistan. The Tibetan Sandgrouse is a ground dwelling bird, inhabiting tree-less open country, like upland-plains and semi-desert upland areas in and near Tibetan plateau and Pamir Mountains. This sandgrouse is a monotypic species.

Tibetan sandgrouse - Overview

  • Scientific name: Syrrhaptes tibetanus
  • Species author: Gould, 1850
  • Synonyms: Syrrhaptes tibetanus Gould, 1850
  • Family: Pteroclididae › Pteroclidiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Common Name: Tibetan sandgrouse
  • Other languages: Chinese: 西藏毛腿沙鸡, French: Syrrhapte du Tibet, German: Tibetflughuhn, Spanish: Ganga tibetana, Russian: Тибетская саджа, Japanese: チベットサケイ
  • Other names: Tibetan Sandgrouse
  • Distribution: India, China, Tajikistan
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, grass, buds, flowers, legumes, shoots
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
Syrrhaptes tibetanus is closely related to Syrrhaptes paradoxus (Pallas's sandgrouse). Earlier, the birds from Pamir Mountains were considered as separate race, Syrrhaptes tibetanus (pamirensis). Syrrhaptes tibetanus is monotypic species.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Tibetan sandgrouse is a medium-sized bird measuring 30 to 45 cm in length and weighing 300 to 400 grams. The head is small and pigeon-like. The wings are long. This sandgrouse has pin tail, as the central tail feathers are long and pin-like. The face and part of the neck are orange. The breast, crown and part of the neck are finely barred gray. The belly is white and the underwings are black.

The wings in male Tibetan sandgrouse are unspotted and pale yellow-brown, whereas in the female the wings are finely barred and vermiculated gray. The juveniles do not have the pin tail. The feet are small and lack the hind toe. The three front toes are fused together and have a fleshy pad underneath. The upper surface of the toes is covered with feathers. The toes appear rather like a paw of an animal.

Birds of India - Image of Tibetan sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes tibetanus
Indian birds- Image of Tibetan sandgrouse in flight - Syrrhaptes tibetanus
Indian birds - Tibetan sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes tibetanus
Birds of India -Tibetan sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes tibetanus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Tibetan sandgrouse species are distributed in India, China and Tajikistan. In India, they occur in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. In China they occur in Tibetan Plateau. In Tajikistan, these species occur in Pamir Mountains.

Ecosystem and habitat

These sandgrouse species prefer upland plains. They inhabit barren sandy plains near waterbody. They forage in the morning and afternoon on the undulating, treeless, semi-desert terrain. They move in flocks to the waterholes in the morning and evening.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of Tibetan sandgrouse consists mainly of seeds, grains, grass, shoots, buds, flowers, berries and legumes.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the sandgrouse species is from April to July in Tibet. The breeding season in Tajikistan is in June. These sandgrouse species scrape a small depression in the ground and lay three eggs. Soon after hatching, the hatchlings move around with the adults.

Migration and movement patterns

These sandgrouse species are altitudinal migrant birds. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding. These sandgrouse species have been found to descent to lower altitudes from the upland plains in winter.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the Tibetan sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be declining. Though the population in the Tibet region is stable, there is drastic decrease in Tajikistan's population. These species have large range and population.

The Tibetan sandgrouse does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable neither under the population trend criterion nor under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Tibetan sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Syrrhaptes tibetanus
Species:S. tibetanus
Binomial name:Syrrhaptes tibetanus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_view_of_Tibetan_Sandgrouse_in_flight_-_Tso_Kar,_Ladakh,_Jammu_Kashmir_India.jpg
Image author: soumyajit nandy | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 (as on 2016-11-27)
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tibetan_Sandgrouse_Syrrhaptes_Tibetanus.jpg
Image author: Dibyendu Ash | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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