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MONGOLIAN GROUND JAY  (PODOCES HENDERSONI)


Locals call the Mongolian ground jay “Gobi Magpie”.  It is also known as Khulan Joroo. The Mongolian ground jay is considered a rare endemic bird species, only inhabiting the Gobi desert. Moltsog Els sand dune area in South Gobi is a well-known habitat for these beauties.

This ground jay is a distinctive corvid.  

The bird is about 30cm in length (12 in). It has a pale sandy head with a striking glossy black crown and nape. Upperparts of the body are sandy brown, with the richest color on scapulars, rump, and upper tail, a color scheme that plays an important role in camouflage.

The black and white wings are sometimes mistaken for Euroasian hoopoe, but the glossy blue-black tail stands out. It has a black, gently down-curved bill and dark brown eyes. This bird struts.

The Mongolian ground jay runs like a racehorse and likes the desert.  They have long, very strong legs adapted to fast running. They are agile leaping onto boulders and rocks. The ground jay prefers to run rather than fly from potential dangers.  

Breeding has been recorded from March to May. The nest is a bowl made of twigs and rootlets, placed low in a bush and rarely among boulders. The jay lays 3 - 4 eggs.

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