Continued from...Bustard Appearance and Breeding Season Courtship
Food of the Bustard
Adult Bustards eat herbs, grains, seeds and fruits,
in fact feeding upon nearly any of the plants which are natural to the
open areas which they favour. When they have a chance, bustards like
to eat small mammals like field mice, and also enjoy insects and eathworms.
The young bustard chicks are fed with insects.
Great Bustard Habitat
The habitat of the Great Bustard is generally arable
land, plantations and green meadows with some undergrowth to conceal themselves
from predators. In comparison with other birds who prefer open spaces,
the legs of the Bustard are particularly short. However, the size and stature
of the bustard makes it a distinguished and regal bird, and when on the
wing, its flying grandness is no less impressive than that of the Eagle.
Range and other interesting
Species of Bustard
Bustards are found in the Old World, in Eurasia to
Australia, and with greatest diversity in Africa. Many seem to like
tropical to moderately hot areas. In the Palearctic ecozone lives
the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) discussed in detail already.
The range of the Great Bustard extends from spain through southern
and central Europe and across temperate Asia.
A tinier species, aptly called the Little Bustard
(Tetrax tetrax) is the smallest species of bustard in the Palearctic region,
reaching around 43 cm long with a wingspan of approximately 90 cm. The
Little Bustard's weight is usually between 608 grams to 975 grams.
It has sometimes (but rarely) been seen as a visitor in the UK, but is
not a native resident in Britain. The Little Bustard's range seems
to be mainly in North Africa, Southern Europe, and in the steppes around
the Black Sea.
Two species of effectively the same bird but separated
by the Sinai peninsula, are both identified by the name of Houbara (which
comes from an arabic word). One of these, the Houbara Bustard
(Chlamydotis undulata) is an inhabitant of Mauritania, some of the Canary
Islands and North Africa. The other species, Macqueen's Bustard,
(Chlamydotis maqueenii), has a more of a wandering disposition.
Macqueen's Bustard reaches India and, although it has the more easterly
range, being a wanderer it has been seen in North Wester Europe on numerous
occasions, and even in the UK. The Houbara Bustard and macquuens
Bustard are desert birds. These species were driven out by Arab falconers,
until almost causing their disappearance.
The Moroccan Bustard (Ardeotis arab), this
being a subspecies of the Arabian Bustard is sadly believed to have become
extinct in the early 1990s.
One of the species in India is the Bengal Florican
(Houbaropsis bengalensis). These are relatively small but particularly
impressive in their ornamental plumage which they display during the breeding
season. The Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) mentioned on the previous page is a relatively large species which is found in the country of its name.
The Kori Bustard is a particularly intersting
species native to Africa. It seems to have developed some kind of
symbiotic relationship with Bee Eaters. Often a Kori Bustard has
been sighted with a Bee Eater riding on its back. This appears to
only occur whilst the bustard is foraging for food. The Bee
Eater snaps up insects which the bustard has disturbed during its forages.
It is believed that the Kori Bustard gains from this relationship in the
fact that the Bee Eater may act as an early warning system to call out
a quick alarm if predators approach.