Physical characteristics: Namaqua sandgrouse are medium-sized sandgrouse that vary between 9.4 and 11 inches (24 to 28 centimeters) in length and 5 and 8.5 ounces (143 to 240 grams) in weight. The male has a yellow-olive head and breast, a maroon and white band across the breast, a brown belly, and a brown back spotted with pearl-gray. The female has brown and cream bars on most of its body, with streaks on the head and neck.
Geographic range: Namaqua sandgrouse are found in southern Africa, including southwestern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and western South Africa.
Habitat: Namaqua sandgrouse occupy stony desert regions marked by low shrubs, as well as sandy deserts with scattered bits of grass.
Diet: Namaqua sandgrouse eat small seeds from the ground. They also drink water, usually in the first few hours after sunrise. Some individuals drink only once every three to five days.
Behavior and reproduction: Namaqua sandgrouse form large flocks of hundreds or thousands of birds. They call to each other while flying, and can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (70 kilometers per hour). Namaqua sandgrouse build their nests on open ground by scraping in the soil and lining the shallow depression with pebbles and dry vegetation. Three eggs are laid by the female. The female incubates the eggs during the day. The male incubates at night. Eggs hatch after about three weeks, and chicks are able to leave the nest after twenty-four hours. However, they are dependent on the male parent for water for two to three weeks, until they are able to fly to the watering hole themselves.
Namaqua sandgrouse and people: Namaqua sandgrouse are hunted for both food and sport.
Conservation status: Namaqua sandgrouse are not considered threatened at this time. ■
Was this article helpful?