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Pterocles burchelli (Burchell's sandgrouse) 

Gevlekte sandpatrys [Afrikaans]; Simbote (generic term for sandgrouse) [Kwangali]; Bont zandhoen [Dutch]; Ganga de Burchell [French]; Fleckenflughuhn [German]; Cortiçol-malhado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Pteroclidae

Pterocles burchelli (Burchell's sandgrouse)  Pterocles burchelli (Burchell's sandgrouse) 

Burchell's sandgrouse, Kgalagadi National Park, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Burchell's sandgrouse in flight, Kgalagadi National Park, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Pterocles burchelli (Burchell's sandgrouse) 

Burchell's sandgrouse, Kgalagadi National Park, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-eastern Angola to Namibia (excluding the most arid areas closer to the coast), Botswana and northern South Africa. It generally prefers areas with red Kalahari sands with patches of grass and scattered shrubs.

Distribution of Burchell's sandgrouse in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Resident and locally nomadic, moving in response to availability of food and water.


It mainly eats seeds, especially of legumes, doing most of its foraging in pairs or small flocks during the day. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • seeds
    • Lophiocarpus burchelli (Sandaarbossie)
    • Requernia sphaerosperma (Red pea)
    • Tephrosia


  • Monogamous solitary nester, with a simple nest consisting of a scrape in sandy soil, sparsely lined with dry plant material and typically placed next to a grass tuft or shrub.
  • Egg-laying season is in the dry winter months, from April-October.
  • It lays three, rarely two eggs.
  • There is little information regarding the chicks, however it is likely that the development and care of the young is similar to that of other sandgrouse, with the female gathering water for its young in its belly feathers and both parents accompanying their young when they leave the nest.


Not threatened, in fact it has greatly benefited from the sinking of boreholes by stock farmers, as this has enabled it to colonise more arid areas than was previously possible.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.