Family Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)


French: Ganga à ventre brun German: Braunbauch-Flughuhn Spanish: Ganga moruna

Pterocles exustus


, 1825,



May be closely related to P. namaqua. Recent study#R suggests that these two together with P. orientalis 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. Proposed race somalicus (Somalia) synonymized with ellioti, and emini (near L Victoria) with olivascens. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. e. exustus Temminck, 1825 – S Mauritania and Senegambia E to Sudan.
  • P. e. floweri Nicoll, 1921 – Nile Valley in C Egypt (was believed almost certainly extinct, but recently rediscovered in Minya Province#R).
  • P. e. ellioti Bogdanov, 1881 – SE Sudan E to Eritrea, N Ethiopia and Somalia.
  • P. e. olivascens (E. J. O. Hartert, 1909) – SE South Sudan, S Ethiopia, Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • P. e. erlangeri (Neumann, 1909) – SW & S Arabian Peninsula.
  • P. e. hindustan R. Meinertzhagen, 1923 – SE Iran, Pakistan and most of India.
  • Introduced (exustus or hindustan) to Hawaii.

    Descriptive notes

    31–33 cm; male c. 170–290 g, female c. 140–240 g; wingspan 48–51 cm. Relatively small species, with elongated central tail feathers, dark underwing... read more


    Flight call a rhythmic three-note phrase “whit!-kt-arrr”, first note a staccato over-slurred... read more


    Typically inhabits bare semi-desert, often with scattered thorny scrubs or trees, e.g. Acacia... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly seeds, which are often hard and very small; shows a possible preference for legumes, in Pakistan and NW India taking Indigofera... read more


    Period extended, with variability related to local rainfall: Jan–Apr in S India; Mar–May in N India (where chicks recorded also... read more


    Sedentary and nomadic; rainfall-related movements detected in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common and widespread through most of extensive range; very common to abundant in some areas, e.g. in N Senegambia, NC Mali, C Chad,... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2020). Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus). 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 20 February 2020).