Great bustard

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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: GroƟtrappe; Spanish: Avutarda euroasiĆ”tica;
  • Other names: avis tarda;
  • Family: Otididae › Gruiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
The two recognized Otis tarda subspecies are: O. t. tarda Linnaeus, 1758 and O. t. dybowskii Taczanowski, 1874.

Indian birds - Image of Great bustard - Otis tarda
Indian birds - Image of Great bustard - Otis tarda


The 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.


The great bustards inhabit open, flat or somewhat rolling landscapes with grass. They are also seen in less-disturbed agricultural lands.

Feeding habits

The 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.


The 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.


The 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 Patterns

The great bustard in the European region are mostly sedentary. The birds from the temperate Asian regions move southward for wintering.

Status and conservation

The 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".

Biological classification of Otis tarda
Species:O. tarda
Binomial name:Otis tarda
Distribution:Europe and Asia;
Feeding habits:plant matter, invertebrates and small reptiles;
IUCN status listing:

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