The Bustard

Food, Habitat and Range

The Great Bustard and its Reintroduction to the UK

Bustard Appearance and Breeding Season Courtship

Food, Habitat and Range of the Bustard

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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.
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