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the web of life in southern Africa

Pterocles gutturalis (Yellow-throated sandgrouse) 

Geelkeelsandpatrys [Afrikaans]; Simbote (generic term for sandgrouse) [Kwangali]; Geelkeelzandhoen [Dutch]; Ganga à gorge jaune [French]; Gelbkehl-flughuhn [German]; Cortiçol-de-garganta-amarela [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 gutturalis (Yellow-throated sandgrouse)  Pterocles gutturalis (Yellow-throated sandgrouse) 
Yellow-throated sandgrouse. [photo Johann du Preez ©] Yellow-throated sandgrouse. [photo Johann du Preez ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in isolated patches of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and southern Africa, where it is generally uncommon in northern Botswana, western Zimbabwe, south-western Limpopo Province, north-eastern North-West Province and northern Namibia. It generally prefers short, open grassy plains with moist clay-like soils, especially on or near seasonal rivers, swamps or flood plains, also occupying fallow fields and cultivated land.

Distribution of Yellow-throated 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.  

Movements and migrations

Not well understood, although it is largely resident in southern Africa, while a breeding visitor to southern Zambia in the dry season.


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

  • seeds
    • legumes
      • Crotalaria
      • Cassia
      • Sesbania
      • Indigofera
      • Amaranthus
      • Achyramthes
      • Bidens
      • Helianthus
      • Hibiscus
      • Forsskaolea
    • grasses
      • Leersia
      • Rottboelia
    • commercial crops
      • oats
      • wheat
      • barley
      • sorghum
      • soya-bean


  • Monogamous solitary nester, as nests are usually placed at least 100 metres from one another.
  • The nest (see image below) is a shallow scrape in the soil, usually lined with bits of dry grass or weed stems and typically placed beneath or adjacent to a grass tuft or shrub.
Pterocles gutturalis (Yellow-throated sandgrouse)  

Yellow-throated sandgrouse nest with eggs, Northam area, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is in the dry winter months, from March-October, peaking from April-August.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 25-26 days.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents, while the female brings them water soaked in her belly feathers, usually fledging when they reach about a third of their parent's size.


Not-threatened globally, but Near-threatened in South Africa, as it is uncommon in protected areas and its largest population in the country is spread out across fallow croplands. This means that it is dependent on an agricultural system that leaves some of the croplands as fallow fields, which could cause problems in the future if agricultural practices change.


  • 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.