Family Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)

Least Concern

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)


French: Ganga unibande German: Sandflughuhn Spanish: Ganga ortega

Tetrao orientalis


, 1758,

Anatolia, Turkey


In the past, occasionally included in (sub)genus Eremialector. Recent study#R suggests that present species, P. namaqua and P. exustus may belong in a clade that includes also the two Syrrhaptes species; or, alternatively, that all five of these may form a group with P. gutturalis, P. personatus, P. coronatus, and possibly including also P. alchata and P. burchelli; further study needed. Geographical variation rather weak; species may be better treated as monotypic. Birds of Iberia and NW Africa formerly separated as race aragonicus; proposed races koslovae (W Kazakhstan), bangsi (NE Afghanistan) and enigmaticus (NW India) now included in arenarius. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. o. orientalis (Linnaeus, 1758) – Iberian Peninsula, Canary Is (Fuerteventura, Lanzarote) and NW Africa (Morocco E to NW Libya); also Anatolia, Cyprus, Israel and Transcaucasia.
  • P. o. arenarius (Pallas, 1775) – NW Kazakhstan E to NW China (NW Xinjiang), and S to Iran, Afghanistan and SW Pakistan (Baluchistan); in winter to NW India.
  • Descriptive notes

    33–39 cm; male c. 400–550 g, female c. 300–460 g; wingspan 70–73 cm. Bulky sandgrouse; combines black belly with wedge-shaped, short central rectrices... read more


    Flight call distinctive, a far-carrying liquid bubbling trill slowing towards the terminus, “... read more


    Semi-arid plains, with steppe to semi-desert vegetation, including pastoral scrubland and dry... read more

    Food and feeding

    Consumes seeds, often small or very small, apparently preferring Leguminosae (Melilotus, Astragalus, Onobrychis... read more


    Laying Mar–Aug, varying with latitude: mostly Apr in Canary Is; mostly Jun in Spain and former USSR, with replacement clutches until... read more


    Sedentary in Iberia and N Africa; nomadic or partly migratory in Turkey and Middle East; largely... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread but often uncommon and usually encountered in pairs or small flocks, except in some winter quarters. Uncommon in Spain,... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2020). Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).