The Turkestan Ground-jay in Uzbekistan

Guest blog by Robert J. Burnside

I have been working in the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, since 2013 on the ecology and conservation of the Asian Houbara with the University of East Anglia, BirdLife International and the Emirates Bird Breeding Centre for Conservation ( During these years one other bird has really caught my imagination as I was always alerted to its presence by the easily identifiable ki-ki-ki alarm call of the Turkestan Ground-jay Podoces panderi (aka Pander’s Ground-jay, Saxaul Ground-jay, [Photo 1, Video 1]). This is often followed by a vain attempt to get a photograph of this handsome bird as it entices you towards it with its characteristic terrestrial running and hopping while always staying just far enough away to ruin the photograph! However, rather than the bird aspiring to foil budding photographers, this behaviour is actually a clever defence strategy used to draw you away from their nest.

Turkestan Ground-jay Podoces panderi calling from a dead stump amongst the carex grass. Credit: Maxim Koshkin.

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