Namaqua Sandgrouse

Namaqua Sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua)

The Namaqua Sandgrouse, also known as the Ganga Namaqua, is a species of ground-dwelling bird in the sandgrouse family. It is found in arid regions of south-western Africa, especially Kalahari Gemsbok Park.

The sandgrouse is a medium-sized bird with a plump body, small head and short legs. It grows to a length of about 28 centimetres (11 in). The male has an orange type buff head, throat and chest and has a conspicuous narrow band of white and dark brown. The colouring of the female and juvenile is more of generally various shades of brown patterned with white specks.

The birds converge on watering holes in the early morning and several dozens or even hundreds of individuals may congregate in one place. They also tend to spend the night in groups, congregating about an hour before dusk. They split up during the day into much smaller groups to feed.

Their principal diet is seeds but they also eat leaves, flowers, small fruit, insects and molluscs. They forage by exploring loose soil with their beaks and flicking it away sideways.

The nest is a scrape in the earth, lined with dried plant material. Incubation lasts about 22 days. The female does the incubation by day and the male does a longer shift at night, starting about two hours before sunset and finishing two hours after dawn. The chicks are able to leave the nest on the day they are hatched. The male brings them water absorbed on the specially adapted feathers of his breast. The chicks grow rapidly; they are fully feathered at three weeks and able to fly at six.

These birds were photographed early morning at a water hole in the Kalahari Gemsbok Park….

Kalagadi 1008

Kalagadi 1014

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Kalagadi 994

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Kalagadi 982

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31 thoughts on “Namaqua Sandgrouse

  1. A sweet little bird … that melts in great against the environment – just like the ground and the rocks. Love that yellow and orange shades that the males carry. Like that the male brings water …. seams like a hard working bird.

  2. Pingback: Cape Turtle Dove.. Ring-necked Dove.. Half-Collared Dove « The Photographic Journey of bulldog.

  3. I like that the man does his part and then some in the sandgrouse family. I noticed that you have some collared doves in the photos too. These birds were introduced in the Bahamas in the 1970s and now we see them here on Vancouver Island, the west coast of Canada. And I read that they don’t migrate but they disperse easily. They certainly are spreading out. We never used to see these birds here; only in the last few years.

    • The Cape Turtle Dove is spread in all four corners of SA and probably most of the southern part of Africa… (Streptopelia capicola) ..the collard dove or Eurasian collard dove (Streptopelia decaocto) is the one that was introduced to the Americas.. although I have no idea why… and they do spread as does the Cape Turtle dove…
      We have the Indian Myna that was introduced here years back and is now almost as prolific as the doves… it has adapted to all areas from dense bush to the hottest deserts…
      One’s mind boggles at the reason for them introducing birds to different areas not natural to them… it’s not as though they are endangered of extinction..

    • Thanks Alex… this is definitely one that has had to adapt… but its speed of flight is unbelievable… there was a jackal continually harassing them … I never managed one decent photo when they took to flight…

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