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The breeding biology of the Namaqua Sandgrouse, Pterocles namaqua

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The breeding biology of the Namaqua Sandgrouse, Pterocles namaqua, was studied and its nesting success determined through the observation of 278 nests over four consecutive breeding seasons at Droëgrond, Northern Cape Province, South Africa. The normal clutch of three eggs is laid over five days (±48-hour laying interval). The incomplete clutch is left unattended overnight, but is attended during the heat of the day by the female on days when an egg is laid and by the male on alternate days. After clutch completion, the pair share incubation, with the female relieving the male 151 min (±21 S.D.) after sunrise and the male relieving the female 105 min (±21 S.D.) before sunset. The incubation period is 21 days from clutch completion, and the three chicks normally hatch within 18 hours of one another. Nesting success ranged from 5.7% to 13.5% between seasons and averaged 8.2%. Predation, primarily by small mammals, was responsible for 96% of nest losses. Estimates of annual recruitment at Droëgrond ranged from minima of 3–10% to maxima of 6–20%, and are believed to be representative of a core area of the distribution of the Namaqua Sandgrouse in South Africa. These low estimates suggest that annual juvenile recruitment may be too low to maintain Namaqua Sandgrouse populations locally. Possible reasons for the sustained low level of breeding success are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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