This, like the common and spotted sand-grouse, is a sandy coloured bird of the size of a dove, but has not the long feathers in the tail; the cock has a grey stripe on the side of the head, and some chocolate on the wings, but can be easily distinguished from the spotted sand-grouse and common sand grouse cocks by his small black bib and black streaks on the forehead and face. The hen is less easy to distinguish, but may be known from the hen spotted sand-grouse by the black markings on her buff plumage being crescents, not spots, while the absence of the long points to the tail will distinguish her from the hen common sand-grouse.
Like the Lichtenstein's sand-grouse, this is merely a frontier bird of doubtful status; it is uncommon and usually only occurs in Sind, does not go east of the Indus even there, and is only suspected of breeding in the country, being usually a winter visitor. Its present range is from North-east Africa, through Arabia, South Persia and Baluchistan, to our frontiers. It breeds as near as Afghanistan, eggs being found about May or June ; they are pale in colour, the spots being scanty and pale brown, while the ground colour is greyish white.
There is very little on record about this bird ; Heuglin says it is just like the spotted sand-grouse—which, in spite of being "pintailed," appears to be its nearest ally in voice and habits. In the southern parts of the Sahara according to Tristram, it takes the place of the black-bellied sand-grouse, along with the spotted species. He only found it in small parties of four or five (no doubt families), but he attributed this to the extreme scarcity of vegetation in its arid haunts. In Baluchistan, Blanford considered it commoner than the spotted sand-grouse.
Mr. Whitaker gives some useful notes on it in his " Birds of Tunisia," where he found it abundant, though local, in the districts south of the Atlas. He found it coming in flocks of from ten to fifty birds to drink at the water-holes at Oglet Alima, from 7 to 10 a.m. They did not come back that evening, but turned up again next morning. They flew high and very strongly, with a loud clucking note somewhat like that of a fowl, audible even when the birds themselves were so high as hardly to be seen. They were shy and required a hard blow to bring them down, but were " excellent eating, not at all dry or tasteless, the breast having dark and light meat the same as black game." He never found anything in their stomachs but seed and other vegetable matter.