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Autumn breeding by Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Laughing Dove in North Africa

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis):

A clutch of two eggs of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse was photographed two days ago near Oued Massa in southern Morocco by Mohamed Bargache (see photo).

Available data up to early 2000s as summarized by Thévenot et al. (2003) are as follows: “egg-lying in Morocco is usually from end April to June, sometimes later to end July; a second brood possible in September”. A subsequent study in the Haouz plain showed that eggs were regularly laid also in July and August, with last clutch was begun on 18 August and completed with the third egg by 21 August 2004 (Znari et al. 2008). Second clutchs also suspected by Znari et al. (2008).

Is the clutch reported here a replacement or a second clutch? In any case this is most likely the latest clutch to be positively reported to this date for this species in Morocco.

Eggs of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis), near Oued Massa, southern Morocco
Eggs of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis), near Oued Massa, southern Morocco, 20 Sep 2016 (Mohamed Bargache)

Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis):

A Laughing Dove was observed nest building at Moulay Bousselham on 10 September 2016 by Jesús Porras. On the same day, Jesús observed 5 birds at the site.

The Laughing Dove continues its northward range expansion and now can easily be seen along the north Atlantic coast of Morocco and has even reached as far north as Tétouan a few years ago.

Handbook of the Birds of the World alive (Baptista et al. 2016) give these dates for breeding: “Feb–Jun in N Africa, but Feb–Oct in Egypt; recorded in all months in Senegambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa…”.

However, these must be old data because recent studies show that the species breeds late also in Northwest Africa: the last laid egg was on 26 July in Tadla plain, central Morocco (Hanane et al. 2008) and the first egg of the last clutch was laid on 7 July in Guelma, northeastern Algeria (Brahmia et al. 2015).

The observation reported here is probably the first evidence of breeding attempt of this species in early autumn in Northwest Africa. In the past, eggs were reported occasionally in December (H. de B. & M. in Thévenot et al. 2003).

The HBW Alive should include these new data from Northwest Africa.


Baptista, L.F., Trail, P.W. & Horblit, H.M. 2016. Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis). 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 http://www.hbw.com/node/54164 on 22 September 2016).

Brahmia, H., Zeraoula, A., Bensouilah, T., Bouslama, Z. & Houhamdi, M. 2015. Breeding biology of sympatric Laughing Streptopelia senegalensis and Turtle Streptopelia turtur Dove: a comparative study in northeast Algeria. Zoology and Ecology 25:  220–226. doi: 10.1080/21658005.2015.1049470

Hanane, S., Bergier, P. & Thévenot, M. 2011. La reproduction de la Tourterelle maillée Streptopelia senegalensis dans la plaine du Tadla (Maroc central): analyse comparée avec la Tourterelle des bois Streptopelia turtur. Alauda 79: 17–28.

Znari, M., Aourir, M., Radi, M. & Melin, J.-M. 2008. Breeding biology of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis in west-central Morocco. Ostrich 79: 53–60. doi: 10.2989/OSTRICH.2008.

Thévenot, M., Vernon, R. & Bergier, P. 2003. The Birds of Morocco. BOU Checklist No. 20, BOU, Tring.

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