Family Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)

Least Concern

Black-faced Sandgrouse (Pterocles decoratus)


French: Ganga à face noire German: Schmuckflughuhn Spanish: Ganga decorada

Pterocles decoratus


, 1868,

Lake Jipe, Kenya–Tanzania border


Affinities uncertain. Recent study#R suggests that this species may form a clade with P. bicinctus, P. quadricinctus, P. lichtensteinii and P. indicus. In the past, sometimes included in genus Eremialector. Previously thought to be close to P. coronatus and P. personatus. Birds of N Tanzania (Ikoma region) formerly separated as race katharinae, but considered indistinguishable from loveridgei. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. d. ellenbecki Erlanger, 1905 – S Ethiopia (occurs also in E Ethiopia), N Kenya and S Somalia. Recorded in Uganda, but status uncertain#R.
  • P. d. loveridgei (Friedmann, 1928) – SW Kenya and W Tanzania.
  • P. d. decoratus Cabanis, 1868 – SE Kenya and E Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    28 cm; c. 140–210 g. Somewhat similar to P. coronatus and P. personatus, with short tail and black facial mask in male, but present species shows... read more


    Flight call a dove-like, rhythmic, three-noted phrase, “what-wa-wha”. Also a high-pitched over-... read more


    Dry savanna and bushveld to semi-desert scrub; sometimes occurs within dense thornbush in small... read more

    Food and feeding

    In Tanzania, takes seeds, mostly Leguminosae (Indigofera, Trianthema) and Boraginaceae (Heliotropium). Drinks... read more


    In Tanzania nests from May to Nov/Dec, probably peaking in Jun–Aug, during dry season. Nest is unlined scrape on sandy or stony... read more


    Poorly known; may be chiefly sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Usually encountered in pairs or small parties. Frequent in Ethiopia; common and widespread in S Somalia; locally common in Kenya.

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2019). Black-faced Sandgrouse (Pterocles decoratus). 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 8 December 2019).