Tibetan sandgrouse

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Tibetan sandgrouse
Tibetan Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes Tibetanus.jpg
Female Tibetan sandgrouse. Photograph has been taken at Tso Kar, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pterocliformes
Family: Pteroclidae
Genus: Syrrhaptes
S. tibetanus
Binomial name
Syrrhaptes tibetanus
(Gould, 1850)

The Tibetan sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus) is a large bird in the sandgrouse family. The genus name Syrrhaptes is from Ancient Greek surrhaptos, "sewn together" (the feathered toes of this sandgrouse are fused together) and tibetanus is from the type locality, Tibet. [2]



The Tibetan sandgrouse is about 30–41 cm long, with a small, pigeon-like head and neck, but sturdy compact body. It has long pointed wings and pin tail. It has an orange face, finely barred grey breast, neck and crown, white belly and black underwings. Male has unspotted buff wing while the female has barred wing coverts, upperparts and upper belly than the male. Juvenile lacks the tail pin, has narrower barrings and has less orange on the face. White belly and dark underwings are distinctions from the related Pallas's sandgrouse, with which its range overlaps. [3] [4] As with that species, its small feet lack a hind toe, and the three front toes are fused together. The upper surface is feathered, and the underneath has a fleshy pad. The appearance of the foot is more like a paw than an avian foot. [5]

Syrrhaptes tibetanus.jpg

Taxonomy and systematics

Currently considered monotypic. Birds from the Pamirs were earlier separated as race pamirensis. The species was first described by Gould in 1850 based on specimen from Tso-Morriri in Ladakh.

Distribution and status

Tibetan sandgrouse is found in mountains ranges of Central Asia, Tibet, Central China and the Himalayas. Though the population is decreasing, due to the large range and low rate of population decrease, the species is classified as "Least Concern" by IUCN. [1]

Behaviour and ecology

Tibetan sandgrouse is found on barren sandy plains near water. They are gregarious and form loose flocks. Their flight is fast and direct and on the wings, a clanging double note is uttered repeatedly. Flocks fly noisily to watering holes at dawn and dusk, usually the former, though less regular than other sandgrouse. [3] They forage in the morning and afternoon on the undulating semi-desert plains. While foraging, their movements are fast and rapid. During the middle of the day it squats in a small depression in the ground, basking in the sun. They are generally not wary, especially in the middle of the day during resting. [4] [6]

This species breeds from May to June on the arid stony plateau and ridges, the nest site generally chosen near the top of the ridge on the leeward side. Its nest is a ground scrape in which three pale brown elliptical eggs with cryptic markings are laid. Generally the nest is exposed, though occasionally could be protected by a stone or grass. [4] The young ones are able to move around soon after hatching. They move around with the flock. When threatened, adults resort to distraction displays, while the chicks crouch and freeze. [7]

They feed on seeds, grass, buds and legumes.

Related Research Articles

Sandgrouse Family of birds

Sandgrouse is the common name for Pteroclidae, a family of sixteen species of bird, members of the order Pterocliformes. They are traditionally placed in two genera. The two central Asian species are classified as Syrrhaptes and the other fourteen species, from Africa and Asia, are placed in the genus Pterocles. They are ground dwelling birds restricted to treeless, open country, such as plains, savannahs, and semi-deserts. They are distributed across northern, southern, and eastern Africa, Madagascar, the Middle East, and India through central Asia. The ranges of the black-bellied sandgrouse and the pin-tailed sandgrouse even extend into the Iberian Peninsula and France, and Pallas's sandgrouse occasionally breaks out in large numbers from its normal range in Asia.

Grey plover Species of bird

The grey plover or black-bellied plover is a medium-sized plover breeding in Arctic regions. It is a long-distance migrant, with a nearly worldwide coastal distribution when not breeding. The genus name is Latin and means relating to rain, from pluvia, "rain". It was believed that golden plovers flocked when rain was imminent. The species name squatarola is a Latinised version of Sgatarola, a Venetian name for some kind of plover.

Pallass sandgrouse Species of bird

Pallas's sandgrouse is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family named after the German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. The genus Syrrhaptes is from surrhaptos, "sewn together" and paradoxus is from paradoxos, "strange".

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Pin-tailed sandgrouse Species of bird

The pin-tailed sandgrouse is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family. It has a small, pigeon like head and neck and a sturdy, compact body. It has long pointed wings, which are white underneath, a long tail and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn. The call is a loud kattar-kattar. This gregarious species breeds on dry open treeless plains and similar habitats. Its nest is a ground scrape into which two or three cream-coloured eggs with cryptic markings are laid. Both sexes incubate the eggs.

Black-bellied sandgrouse Species of bird

The black-bellied sandgrouse is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family.

<i>Syrrhaptes</i> Genus of birds

Syrrhaptes is a genus of birds in the sandgrouse family. The genus name is from Ancient Greek surrhaptos, "sewn together"; the feathered toes of birds in this genus are fused together.

<i>Pterocles</i> Genus of birds

Pterocles is a genus of near passerine birds in the sandgrouse family. It includes all the species in the family except for two central Asian species in Syrrhaptes

Black-necked crane Species of large bird from Asia

The Black-necked Crane is a medium-sized crane in Asia that breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and remote parts of India and Bhutan. It is 139 cm (55 in) long with a 235 cm (7.8 ft) wingspan, and it weighs 5.5 kg (12 lbs). It is whitish-gray, with a black head, red crown patch, black upper neck and legs, and white patch to the rear of the eye. It has black primaries and secondaries. Both sexes are similar. Some populations are known to make seasonal movements. It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range. A festival in Bhutan celebrates the bird while the Indian union territory of Ladakh has designated it as the state bird.

Tibetan partridge Species of bird

The Tibetan partridge is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes. They are found widely across the Tibetan Plateau and have some variations in plumage across populations. They forage on the ground in the sparsely vegetated high altitude regions, moving in pairs during the summer and in larger groups during the non-breeding season. Neither males nor females have spurs on their legs.

Snow partridge Species of bird

The snow partridge is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae found widely distributed across the high-altitude Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal and China. It is the only species within its genus, and within the tribe Lerwini, and is thought to be the most basal member of the subfamily Phasianinae. The species is found in alpine pastures and open hillside above the treeline but not in as bare rocky terrain as the Himalayan snowcock and is not as wary as that species. Males and females look similar in plumage but males have a spur on their tarsus.

Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse Species of bird

The chestnut-bellied sandgrouse or common sandgrouse is a species of sandgrouse. It is a sedentary and nomadic species that ranges from northern and central Africa and further east towards western and southern Asia. There are six recognised subspecies.

Tibetan snowcock Species of bird

The Tibetan snowcock is a bird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. This species is found in high-altitude regions of the Western Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, where it overlaps in part with the larger Himalayan snowcock. The head is greyish and there is a white crescent patch behind the eye and underside is white with black stripes. In flight the secondaries show a broad white trailing edge.

Tibetan eared pheasant Species of bird

The Tibetan eared pheasant, also called Elwes' eared pheasant, is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae found in southeast Tibet and adjacent northern India, usually between 3,000 and 5,000 m elevation, but has been seen down to 2,280 m (7,500 ft) in winter.

Upland buzzard Species of bird

The upland buzzard is a species of bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. The largest species of the Buteo genus, this buzzard lives in mountainous grassy and rocky areas in areas of Central Asia, northern South Asia and East Asia from Kazakhstan to Korea. The upland buzzard is migratory but typically covers a short distance apparently to avoid snow cover that may hamper prey capture. This species primarily subsists on small mammals but does not shun alternate prey from small to large birds and insects. This little known raptor has a large range, and though generally uncommon, it is not thought to be rare or declining as a species. As a result it is classified as least concern by the IUCN.

Snow pigeon Species of bird native to central Asia

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Crowned sandgrouse Species of bird

The crowned sandgrouse is a species of bird in the sandgrouse family, the Pteroclidae from North Africa and the Middle East.

Madagascar sandgrouse Species of bird

The Madagascar sandgrouse is a species of bird in the family Pteroclidae. It is endemic to Madagascar and is a ground-dwelling short-legged plump bird. The head of the male is brown with a black area surrounding the beak. He has a pinkish-buff coloured breast, a light brown mottled back, brown wings and paler underparts barred with dark brown. The female has a generally duller appearance being cryptically coloured brown with dark specks and bars.

Spotted sandgrouse Species of bird

The spotted sandgrouse is a species of ground dwelling bird in the family Pteroclidae. It is found in arid regions of northern and eastern Africa and across the Middle East and parts of Asia as far east as northwest India. It is a gregarious, diurnal bird and small flocks forage for seed and other vegetable matter on the ground, flying once a day to a waterhole for water. In the breeding season pairs nest apart from one another, the eggs being laid in a depression on the stony ground. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and eat dry seed, the water they need being provided by the male which saturates its belly feathers with water at the waterhole. The spotted sandgrouse is listed as being of "least concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in its Red List of Threatened Species.

Chilean swallow Species of bird

The Chilean swallow is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It breeds in Chile and Patagonia, migrating north as far as Bolivia, Paraguay, and Rio Grande do Sul.


  1. 1 2 BirdLife International (2012). "Syrrhaptes tibetanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 376, 385. ISBN   978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. 1 2 Rasmussen PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. pp. 201–202.
  4. 1 2 3 Baker, ECS (1928). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 5 (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 277–278.
  5. van Grouw, Katrina (2012). Unfeathered Bird. Princeton University Press. pp. 242–243. ISBN   978-0691151342.
  6. Baker, ECS (1921). The Game Birds of India, Burma and Ceylon, Volume 2. The Bombay Natural History Society. pp. 316–323.
  7. Ali, Salim (1946). "An Ornithological Pilgrimage". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 46 (2): 305.