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 Parkā€¦.

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