Burchell’s Sandgrouse

Pterocles burchelli

Burchell’s Sandgrouse is a denizen of arid savannas and is especially common in the sparsely vegetated, sandy Kalahari. These seed-eaters normally drink daily, usually 2-5 hours after sunrise, and is subject to localized movements to access food sources and waterholes. Adults weigh around 200g and are about 25cm long.

Burchell’s Sandgrouse move around in small flocks of up to 50, but are monogamous, solitary breeders. Their nests are simple scrapes in the ground, lined with dry plant material and usually placed next to some kind of vegetation. They nest from late autumn to early spring, usually laying 3 eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs and look after the precocial chicks. The adult birds’ breast feathers are adapted to absorb water, which is then flown back to the chicks.

The IUCN considers Burchell’s Sandgrouse to be of least concern. It is distributed over parts of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa (Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo) and has benefited from farming enterprises sinking boreholes to provide water for livestock in otherwise inaccessible areas.

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