Birds of the World

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Charadriiformes / Pterocli - Sandgrouse
 
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Shorebirds, Charadriiformes
Pterocli - Sandgrouse
Charadrii - Shorebirds
Families: Seedsnipe, Plains-wanderer, Thick-knees, Plovers and Lapwings, Oystercatchers,
    IbisbillStilts and Avocets, Painted Snipe, Jacanas, Magellanic Plover, Sheathbills,
    Sandpipers, Phalaropes
Lari - Gulls, Terns, Skimmers
Families: Crab Plovers, Pratiincoles and Coursers, Jaegers and Skuas, Gulls, Terns, Skimmers
Alcae - Auks
Families: Auks
 
Species:   
Pacific Golden-Plover, Southern Lapwing, Blackish Oystercatcher,
American Black Oystercatcher
, Silver Gull, Western Gull, Heermann's Gull, Lava Gull, Swallow-tailed Gull, Kelp Gull, Dolphin Gull, South American Tern
 
Images:   
Sanderling, Willet, Piping and Semipalmated Plovers,
Masked, Southern, Red-wattled, and Northern Lapwings
, White-tailed Plover,
Eurasian, Blackish, and American Black Oystercatchers, Pied Stilt,
Northern and Wattled Jacanas, Snowy SheathbillWillet, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper,
Red Phalarope, Alaskan shorebirds, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, Black Skimmer,
South Polar Skua
, Bonaparte's Gull, Fairy Tern, Black Skimmer,
Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Klittliz's Murrelet, Black Guillemot, and Tufted Puffin
 
  Pterocli - Sandgrouse
Sandgrouse were originally placed in the Columbiformes in the erroneous belief that they also drank by sucking/pumping as do doves. Since this does not happen, the tendency has been to place them in a separate order (Order Pteroclidiformes). They appear to be a near passerine group related to the shorebirds. Sandgrouse were placed at the beginning of the Charadriiformes by Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) and after it by Clements (2007) and the AOU Checklist. Wherever it is placed, Sandgrouse appear to be allied with other charadriiform groups. They have been included in the Metaves with the Columbiformes (and Mesites). The patterned precocial downy young and egg coloration resemble those of many shorebirds.
   The Tree of Life places Sandgrouse in the Neornithes between pigeons and tropicbirds. The Encyclopedia of Life includes them in their expanded Order Ciconiiformes (which also includes shorebirds but not doves).
  Sandgrouse are not a familiar group to those of us in North America.
 
  (Order Pteroclidiformes)
   Family Pteroclididae - Sandgrouse
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  16 species, 2 genera (Syrrhaptes, Pterocles). Old World - Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and central Asia in arid or semi-arid regions, often in deserts or semi-deserts.
   Sandbrouse are medium-sized terrestrial birds. They are renowned for their long flights to find water. Most are of similar size. Males are slightly larger in some species. They are cryptically colored with a short bill that is quail-like, without an operculum. Their head and neck are small and the bill is pigeon-like. They have holorhinal nares (surrounded by feathers for protection). Their body is plump and squat (quail-like) and their wings are pointed and they have a strong direct flight (visiting water holes at dawn and dusk). Their legs are robust. Their tarsus is short and feathered (Syrrhaptes), the toes are wide and short, and the soles are covered with small scutes. The hallux is small and elevated (Pterocles) or absent. Their pelvic muscle formula is ABXY+. Their flexor tendons are Type 4. They have long caeca, and symmetrical extrinsic syringeal muscles. They have 11 primaries, the outer-most reduced, 17-18 secondaries, 14-18 tail feathers and a small aftershaft. Their oil gland is naked. Their crop is large and single-lobed. Their skeleton is pneumatic. Apteria (unfeathered regions) have a small amount of down. Their contour feathers are dense with a downy undercoat.
   Sandgrouse are social and often occur in flocks (sometimes exceeding 100 birds). They often forage on the ground in low vegetation, shuffling along with their head down. Well camouflaged, they will fly if disturbed. They inhabit mostly dry or semi-arid savannas, and edges. They feed on seeds and other plant material - usually concentrating on a small number of preferred plants. Some also eat insects. They may also feed on cultivated grains. Those living in dry areas make daily "water flights," some flying up to 50 miles to drink.
   They are vocal in pairs or small flocks. The whistle of the Pallas's Sandgrouse, Syrrhaptes paradoxus, is made by the outer primaries.
   Most are monogamous and birds pair for life. They have no elaborate courtship displays. They build a shallow scrape or lay their  2-3 eggs on the ground. Both parents incubate for 20-25 days. The young are downy and nidifugous and feed themselves within a day. They follow their parents to forage and are able to fly in about a month but are unable to make long flights to water holes until they are 2 months of age.
    Males "tank up" with water during their daily visit to water holes. They rub their belly on soil or sand to remove oil used to waterproof their feathers. They wade into the water, holding wings and tail clear and bobbing to wet the dense belly down feathers. When saturated, he returns to the nest and young drink from a ventral groove in the plumage. Young are also cooled by evaporation of the water supplied by the male during the heat of the day.