The great bustard (Otis tarda) belongs to the bustard family Otididae. The great bustard species is distributed in southern and central Europe, across temperate Asia and occasionally in Indian Subcontinent.
Taxonomy of Great bustard
- Scientific Name: Otis tarda
- Common Name: Great bustard
- French: Grande Outarde; German: Großtrappe; Spanish: Avutarda euroasiática;
- Other names: avis tarda;
- Family: Otididae › Gruiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
- Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
|Indian birds - Image of Great bustard - Otis tarda|
DescriptionThe great bustard is a very large bird and the male is much larger than the female. The male bird measures, 105 cm in length and weighs 6,000 to 18,000 grams. The female measures 75 cm in length and weighs 3,000 to 5,500 grams. The brown back of the male is barred with black and gold. The under parts are greyish white. The long neck and head are grey. The sides of the lower neck are chestnut and gold. The breeding male has long white neck bristles. These bustard birds normally do not make sounds and when alarmed they make a bark like call.
HabitatThe great bustards inhabit open, flat or somewhat rolling landscapes with grass. They are also seen in less-disturbed agricultural lands.
Feeding habitsThe great bustard species are omnivorous. They feed on grasses, seeds, cereals and other plant materials. They also feed on invertebrates, rodents, frogs, reptiles and small birds.
BreedingThe great bustard breed during the months of March and April. The males are polygamous. The nesting sites are on dense grass and the female bustard lays up to three eggs.
DistributionThe great bustard Subspecies O. t. tarda breeding population is distributed in Morocco, Iberia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Turkey, Iran, Russia,Kazakhstan and China. These bustards winter in Turkey, Syria, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. They occasionally move up to Northwest India. The bustard subspecies O. t. dybowskii is distributed in Southeast Russia, Mongolia and Northeast China. They winter in Central and East China.
Movement PatternsThe great bustard in the European region are mostly sedentary. The birds from the temperate Asian regions move southward for wintering.
Status and conservationThe great bustard birds are facing sharp decline in population due to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat, as well as hunting. The world population of these bustard species is estimated to be between 44,000 and 57,000 individual birds. They are considered vulnerable.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these bustard birds and has listed them as "Vulnerable".
Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Otis_tarda,_Hortobagy,_Hungary_1.jpg
Image Author: Francesco Veronesi from Italy | Image License: CC BY-SA 2.0
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