Family Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)

Least Concern

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata)


French: Ganga cata German: Spießflughuhn Spanish: Ganga ibérica

Tetrao Alchata


, 1766,



Affinities uncertain. Has been thought to be close to P. namaqua, P. exustus and P. senegallus#R,#R. However, based on morphological, behavioural and nucleotide sequences neither this nor any other clade including P. alchata was well-supported, suggesting a basal position of present species within Pteroclidae#R. Additional nucleotide sequences are required to improve basal resolution and clarify the placement of P. alchata. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. alchata (Linnaeus, 1766) – Iberian Peninsula and SE France.
  • P. a. caudacutus (S. G. Gmelin, 1774) – NW Africa (Morocco E to N Libya); SE Turkey and Middle East E through Iraq and Iran to Uzbekistan and S Kazakhstan; in winter S to C Arabia, Pakistan and NW India.
  • Descriptive notes

    31–39 cm; male c. 250–408 g, female 207–370 g; wingspan, 54–65 cm. Long central rectrices; underwing and belly white; broad chestnut band on... read more


    Gives relatively loud “catar-catar” in flight, as well as a nasal “ga-ga-ga... read more


    Semi-arid and arid treeless plains, from semi-desert and steppe to dry mudflats near marshes and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly feeds on seeds, but to lesser extent also green shoots, leaves and flowers. Strongly selects Leguminosae, and also takes ... read more


    Monogamous but long-term mate fidelity has not been established; throughout the year paired individuals can be observed within flocks,... read more


    Sedentary and nomadic in Europe, N Africa and Middle East E to W Afghanistan; mostly migratory in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common or locally numerous in Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, N Iran and Turkestan, where concentrations of up to 10,000s have been reported... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E., Kirwan, G.M. & Martín, C.A. (2020). Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata). 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 23 January 2020).