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Pin-tailed sandgrouse


Common name Pin-tailed sandgrouse
Scientific name Pterocles alchata
Type Steppe birds
Status Rarity

Medium sized terrestrial bird (approx 39 cm or 15.5 in) of earthy mimetic tones. Orange head and neck. Eyes with bluish eye ring. Black top of the throat. Rufous chest with red edges. Orange back and wings with golden ocelli (circles that look like eyes) and dark stripes. White underparts. Grey bill and legs. Feathered tarsi. Very long and pointed tail, white at the bottom. Less showy females. Bluish ocelli, white throat and black bands on neck and breast. The legs are hardly distinguished when walking. In flight very white underparts with black border, thicker on the wings. Pointed tail and orange throat and breast.


Cultivated areas

Where it lives

Species linked to the steppes and semi-desert zones. The Pin-Tailed Sandgrouse prefers semi-arid plains, pastures, dry marshes and extensive cereal crops with mosaics of legumes and fallows. It avoids sowings with certain height and areas with scattered trees.

How it lives

Bird considered a rarity in the province. The only reproducing population and resident in Andalusia is in the marshes of the Guadalquivir. Lonely in summer and gregarious in flocks in winter. It breeds especially in June. Nest on the ground. One laying of 3 eggs. Very discreet bird, it spends most of the day on the ground, foraging. Exclusively granivorous, with preference for legumes. This sandgrouse’s presence is determined by the existence of water points in its habitat during the summer season.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

It is a species that used to be watched in Malaga in the nineties. There was a small population in Villanueva de Algaidas, although it was not regular. There is also evidence of reproduction in the fertile plain of the Guadalhorce River and in the Antequera region. Since 1995 there have been no observations of the species in the province. The Pin-Tailed Sandgrouse is one of the birds that has suffered to the greatest extent changes in agriculture, which have affected their populations very negatively.

Curious facts

The name of this bird in Spanish is “ganga” and comes from its peculiar call, a kind of nasal clucking that it emits when flying, something very similar to "ngá ... ngá ...".

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration