Painted sandgrouse

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The painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus) belongs to the family of sandgrouses, Pteroclididae.

These sandgrouse species are distributed in India and north Pakistan. The painted sandgrouse species are ground dwelling birds occurring in treeless open country. These sandgrouses are sexually dimorphic and are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Painted Sandgrouse Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Painted sandgrouse - Overview

  • Scientific name: Pterocles indicus
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1789)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Tetrao indicus J. F. Gmelin, 1789/li>
  • Family: Pteroclididae › Pteroclidiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Painted sandgrouse, Chinese: 彩沙鸡, French: Ganga indien, German: Bindenflughuhn, Spanish: Ganga india, Russian: Полосатый рябок, Japanese: サザナミサケイ, Tamil: Varna Kowdhari
  • Other names: Close-barred Sandgrouse, Indian Sandgrouse
  • Distribution: India, north Pakistan
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus) is closely related to Pterocles decoratus, Pterocles bicinctus, Pterocles quadricinctus and Pterocles lichtensteinii.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus) is a ground dwelling bird, measuring about 30 cm in length and weighing 170 to 230 grams.

The painted sandgrouse species have small, pigeon-like heads and plump sturdy bodies. These species are sexually dimorphic. The male has pinkish orange bill, white forehead and a thick black bar across the forehead. The crown is pale buff with dark striations. The tail is short.

The breast and belly region are pinkish brown. There is a black and buff band around the breast. The back, wings and tail are brown. The upperparts and the underparts are boldly marked in dark brown and whitish transverse bars.

There is a white patch of bare skin surrounding the black eye. The female is dull in color and has pale brown plumage. There is fine, dark and pale brown barring and speckling over the entire body. The female lacks the breast band as well as the black forehead bar. Their call is a two noted "klick-klick" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Painted sandgrouse - Pterocles indicus
Birds of India - Image of Painted sandgrouse - Pterocles indicus
Birds of India - Photo of Painted sandgrouse - Pterocles indicus
Indian birds - Picture of Painted sandgrouse - Pterocles indicus
Indian birds - Image of Painted sandgrouse - Pterocles indicus
Birds of India - Photo of Painted sandgrouse - Pterocles indicus by Brian Gratwicke

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The painted sandgrouse species are distributed in India and north Pakistan. There are unconfirmed reports of their presence in Afghanistan.

In India, these species occur in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Ecosystem and habitat

The painted sandgrouse species do not normally occur in forests. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.

The painted sandgrouse inhabit dry rocky and savanna ecosystems. The natural ecosystems include tropical and subtropical dry deciduous forests, dry rocky areas, bare foothills, semi-deserts, dry plateaus, dry savanna and tropical and subtropical dry shrubland.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these painted sandgrouse species is mostly wild seeds. Wild seeds, cereals, grains and termites are their primary food.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these painted sandgrouse species is from April to June in India. These birds have been recorded to breed in other months as well, except in July and September. These species are monogamous. The gregarious feeding flocks tend to break up into pairs during the breeding season.

The painted sandgrouse nest is a scrape in the ground. The typical painted sandgrouse clutch contains 2 to 3 oval, buff colored cryptic eggs. Both the parents incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch out in about 23 days. The hatchlings are precocial and are covered with down feathers. They follow the parent and learn to identify their food.

Water is provided by the parent after a visit to the watering hole, from the water-soaked downy feathers on the breast. The parents provide shade to the small chicks till they thermoregulate and also brood them in the night.

Migration and movement patterns

The painted sandgrouse is a non-migratory resident bird.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range. Drying up of watering holes may make them nomadic.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be stable. It is reported to be moderately common in parts of India and generally rare in Pakistan. The generation length is 5.6 years. Their distribution size is about 2,760,000

The painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Hunting of adult and juvenile birds for food is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these sandgrouse species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the sandgrouse species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Pterocles indicus
Species:P. indicus
Binomial name:Pterocles indicus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source:
Image author: Rudraksha Chodankar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source:
Image author: Rudraksha Chodankar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source:
Image author: Brian Gratwicke | License: CC BY 2.0 (as on 01/03/17)
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