Biddulph’s Ground Jay

Biddulph’s Ground Jay Podoces biddulphi inhabits Taklimakan Desert of Xinjiang; there is also a record from near Golmud in Qinghai. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Sandy desert scrub with plenty of bushes, which it uses as perches and for nesting. Swaggers across desert floor, using long, decurved bill to dig for beetles; also eats carrion (roadkill) and seeds. Prefers not to fly but can fly far when alarmed. ID & COMPARISON Glossy blue-black from center of crown to nape; lores, superciliary area, and ear coverts buffy brown. Malar area and chin blackish; throat may range in color from all black to black mottled white to all white, depending on individual and degree of wear on plumage. Rest of upperparts and underparts buffy brown, grading to brown on scapulars, rump, and uppertail coverts. Lesser and median wing coverts brown; primary coverts black, but primaries mainly white with black tips and bases, and secondaries mainly black with white tips. Tail white. Henderson’s Ground Jay P. hendersoni has buff-brown chin and malar area (no black), a black tail, and a thicker, shorter bill. BARE PARTS Bill, feet black. VOICE Low whistles; calls chui-chui-chui. — Craig Brelsford


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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