Birds of Iran

Apr 10th
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Home Observations Deserts and Dry Lands of Iran Pleske's Ground Jay in Iran

Pleske's Ground Jay in Iran

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Iranian Ground Jay (Podoces pleskei) or Pleske's ground jay is one of the well known native species of deserts of the Caspio-Central Asian desert and to be specific; native to deserts alongside extreme east borders of Iran. The closer you get to the eastern central deserts of Iran the better chance of observing them you stand. One might mistake Iranian ground jay with Hoopoe Lark, But the coloring and plumage on Iranian ground jay is unique with no crest like Hoopoe Larks', only the look similar in shape and posture. Black bib is the key to distinguish Pleske's but lack of black bib on Juv. ground jays might be misleading. the distribution is known to be desert depressions of eastern Iran, mostly border habitats in Dusht-e-Lut of Khorasan and extreme Kerman. Northern most record from northern Semnan, south to Iranian Baluchistan.



Pleske's Ground Jay (Podoces pleskei)



Ground jays or ground choughs belong to a distinct group of the passerine order of birds in the genus Podoces of the crow family Corvidae. They inhabit high altitude semi-desert areas from central Asia to Mongolia(All 4 species, while pleske's distribution is limited to eastern Iranian borders).

Ground jays show adaptations to ground living such as long, strong legs adapted to fast running and the ability to leap and bound onto boulders and rocks with great agility. Their long, curved thick bills are adapted for digging and probing.

While capable of flight (which they do infrequently and relatively weakly), they prefer running, and will readily perch on trees and bushes also.

Henderson's Ground Jay (Podoces hendersoni)
Biddulph's Ground Jay (Podoces biddulphi)
Persian Ground Jay (Podoces pleskei)
Grey Ground Jay (Podoces panderi)

Could occur over border into Pakistani Baluchistan, perhaps even western Afghanistan. pleske's ground jay habitat is mostly semi-desertous plains with Zygophyllum atriplicoides known as "TAAGH" in persian (farsi) language.


pleske's ground jay is common in Kerman Province and seen always in Shahr-e-Babak area. not through recent years though due to habitat loss. pleske's ground jay's name is "ZAGH-e-BOOR" in persian and natives call it "Soose' le'ng" which drives from it's jack hammer type of feeding while scavenging at the roadsides. they happen to search for where ever Zygophyllum steppe occurs as in eastern border of Iran and borders of Caspio-Central asian desert. If Zygophyllum is the scrub which grows to a hight of 0.5-1.5 m tall, with twisted, rather thick and juicy branches and small spoon-shaped leaves, few of which remained on the plants in autumn. It sometimes makes relatively thick growths. pleske's ground jay is active in habitats with more visible sand. They are active during dun and dusk, avoiding the noon heat.

Pleske's Ground Jay Nest

The nest looks bushy like a magpie's but quiet deeper cone shaped, being as big but using thin branches compared to magpie's.

Pleske'e ground jay nest


Pleske's ground jay usualy lay four small eggs, each one inch long(to my estimate), light cream colored mottled with reddish brown dots.

Pleske's ground jay chicks and egg

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by Peter Castell, September 22, 2011
I am the author of the DVD:Breeding Birds of The Western Palearctic:Nests,Eggs,Nestlings,Fledglings and Habitats,published by Birdguides( am most interested in obtaining the photos of the nest and the eggs and young birds,as shown in your website,with the intention of including these photos on the next edition of my DVD.I shall be most grateful if you could send an email to me at my email address above.
Peter Castell
Time to Visit Ground Jay
written by Rahman Mehraby, September 23, 2013
Just like you've explained, we've always went to see them very early in the morning. I just wonder if these birds are spending lots of daylight time in their nests. If so, would it be cool enough for them? Maybe they're not very much bothered by the heat, otherwise, they could choose another habitat. What's your opinion?

Rahman Mehraby
Destination Iran
Time to Visit
written by Ali Sadr, December 29, 2013
Hi Rahman,

In nesting season, Pleske's Ground Jay seem to become very secretive. They don't move much unless they are disturbed, And you are right about the weather, it's hotter than one can imagine.

Good luck,

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Last Updated ( Friday, 03 April 2009 19:39 )  

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