Pterocletes


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Pterocletes

 

(sandgrouse), a suborder of birds of the order Columbiformes. The body length is 23–40 cm. The wings, which are adapted to rapid flight, are long and sharp. The tarso-metatarsus is feathered, and the hind toe is short or absent. The birds have dense plumage and thick skin to protect against overheating and, in Pallas’s sandgrouse, against freezing. The coloration consists of sandy or reddish tones.

There is a single family, Pteroclidae, which includes the following three genera: Pterocles (12 species), Syrrhaptes (one species), and Syrrhaptes tibetanus (one species). Sandgrouse are distributed in Africa, Asia, and southwestern Europe. They feed on the seeds of herbs and shrubs, and they nest on the ground. In waterless areas the birds fly to watering places and carry water to their young in their crops or their abdominal feathers. A clutch usually contains three eggs, which are incubated by both parents. The young are born sighted and covered with thick down. The parents feed them by regurgitation.

Two species of Pterocles are found in southern Kazakhstan and Middle Asia: the pintailed sandgrouse (P. alchata) prefers sandy deserts, and P. orientalis inhabits gravelly foothills. Both species are migratory. Sandgrouse are hunted.

REFERENCE

Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1951.

A. I. IVANOV