Seasonal nomadism and pre-breeding scouting forays of a Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)

Elon Gur, Nir Sapir, Ohad Hatzofe, Ofer Ovadia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nomadism is a type of movement lacking fixed spatiotemporal patterns, evident in species inhabiting variable environments. The irregular movement characterizing nomadic species often acts as a challenging barrier for scientists investigating their ecology. We provide an insight on the movement of a nomadic desert bird, the Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus), within and between different activity seasons. The data were obtained from 1 individual fitted with a satellite transmitter, which was tracked for ∼2.5 years. Three main activity seasons were detected during which the bird stayed in a specific area: pre-breeding, breeding, and winter. Nomadic behavior was evident during the pre-breeding and breeding seasons, whereas site fidelity was observed during winter (i.e., seasonal nomadism). Local scale fidelity with respect to roosting behavior was also evident among and within the 3 winters of tracking. Field observations carried out during the first breeding season enabled us to link the movement patterns of the bird with its behavior at different phases of the breeding season. Within and between activity seasons, the bird was engaged in short- and long-distance scouting forays. The long-distance ones occurred only during the pre-breeding season. In some of the scouting forays, the bird arrived at sites it had previously utilized, suggesting the existence of spatial memory and navigation capability. This fine-scale description of movement can uncover key features, which allow the survival and reproduction of nomadic birds inhabiting arid areas where the distribution of resources is largely unpredictable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1014-1019
Number of pages6
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and by the Hoopoe Foundation, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). We would like to thank A. Tsoar, U. Columbus, D. Alon, and M. Goren for their assistance in running this research project and for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Ethical approval: All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. In addition, all required permits and approvals for the trapping and tagging of the sandgrouses were obtained from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (permit no. 2015/41035).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wilson Ornithological Society. All rights reserved.


  • Argos satellite tracking
  • irregular movement
  • roosting site
  • seasonal dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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