Length: males up to 105 cm, females from 75 to 80 cm
Weight: males up to 16 kg, females - up to 8 kg
Life expectancy: 20-25 years, in captivity about 30 years
Bustard is recognized as the heaviest of flying birds, this steppe inhabitant mainly moves on the ground and quickly runs in case of danger.
Individuals are considered omnivorous, in their diet plant foods (seeds, shoots, wild garlic) and animals (insects, rodents, frogs), in the mating season, males perform a spectacular dance.
The true feathered heavyweight in the wild of the territory of Russia is the bustard bird. Males are much larger than females, and their weight is about twice as large.
Thanks to strong legs, the bird can travel considerable distances daily.
Bustard is mainly a steppe bird. She lives on open plains without copses, meadows and fields. This is due to the caution of birds, since the free space there is far visible.
During nesting, individuals stop in areas with high vegetation. There are cases when bustards nest among crops of grain, sunflower and other crops.
The habitat of bustards extends across the territory of North Africa and Eurasia, capturing the steppe regions from the Pyrenees to Mongolia.
Wintering birds go to Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Northern Iran.
Bustard is a rather large bird, about two times more than a black grouse . Males are superior in weight and size to females.
Of the external differences, it is worth noting the pale gray tendrils, which rise up during the mating dance. The popular names of this representative of the bustard family are Dudak, Spoonbill.
The diet includes both vegetation - herbs, cultivated plants, and animal food - insects such as grasshoppers and cicadas , rodents such as steppe mice and lemmings .
Pale gray tendrils are visible in male photo
Important! Sometimes the bustard is divided into two subspecies. However, differences in plumage are noticeable only in aging males.
Manner of flight
Bustard is able to run fast, but more often moves slowly and impressively. This is one of the heaviest flying birds. To rise in the air, individuals have to scatter.
They gain height gradually; in flight they make powerful rare flapping wings. Despite the apparent slowness, the bird develops a speed of up to 50 km / h. He does not gain great height, flies closer to the ground.
When birds fly
Spring migration of birds is carried out at the very beginning of warming and the emergence of thawed patches. They fly, forming pairs or small flocks of up to 5 individuals. Alone, birds rarely return from wintering.
Wintering birds leave at the turn of August-September. The duration of the flight depends on the habitat. In the southern regions, the stay of birds to the place of wintering can end only by September.
The description of the bustard should begin with its long legs and neck. In the photo the head is large, rounded, the neck is thickened. The wings are long and wide.
The tail also looks elongated, with generally rounded outlines. Birds have a bright motley plumage - reddish-brown on the back and wings, white on the chest.
Males are distinguished by a stronger body and threadlike feathers resembling an antennae.
Bustard has long legs and a neck
Important! In the East Siberian subspecies, which inhabits the territory of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Eastern Siberia, the long feathers near the beak form together with the antennae a whole beard.
In flight, the bustard looks like a goose: head and neck are stretched forward, legs are strongly laid back. Wingspan unhurried and uniform, however, the description of flights shows that individuals develop a high speed.
The bustard plumage is reddish-brown with white areas
The features of the structure and behavior of birds include the following:
- The absence of the coccygeal gland, as well as the sweat glands. For this reason, feathers are not kept secret. To cool off in hot weather, individuals settle directly on the ground and spread their wings. Bustard breathes deeply through its open beak. Non-greased feathers get very wet during rains. Freezing after a rainfall is especially dangerous for birds. Soaked feathers freeze, in this state the bustard is completely defenseless.
- Despite the fact that in flight individuals are able to develop high speed, they practically do not move through the air at distances of more than 100 m.
- Gray-brown color - a wonderful disguise against the background of field vegetation.
- Fleeing from the enemy, the bird lays on the ground and merges with the grass. In this, her behavior is similar to a snipe or woodcock - these birds also rely on their disguise.
- Bustard is sometimes grown on poultry farms. Eggs laid in the fields are collected and placed in incubators. The grown chicks are then released into their natural habitat.
- The male bustard performs a spectacular mating dance. The bird greatly inflates the throat sac, draws its head in, raises its tail and feathers.
- During the year, the bird sheds twice. The first call in the spring (pre-wedding molt), when fluff and small feathers are replaced mainly. The second call in the fall (post-wedding molt). At this time, there is a complete replacement of plumage.
- Bustard practically does not make sounds. In the repertoire of birds there is only a deep sound, reminiscent of the bleating that the male emits during the mating dance. To communicate with the chicks, the female uses short deaf cries. Youngsters speak in their own way. Little chicks make a squeak, and grown-ups make thin trills.
Bustard is considered omnivorous. In the bird menu, the following can be noted:
- seeds of herbs and cultivated plants;
- gentle shoots;
- wild garlic;
- larvae and insects (locusts, beetles, grasshoppers);
- mice and other small rodents;
- frogs and lizards;
- chicks of small birds.
In hot weather, after eating, the bustard descends to lakes or keys to a watering hole. The bird uses both fresh and salt water, although it prefers the first.
Then rest in a shady place follows. When the heat subsides, the bustard continues to search for food.
Bustard on vacation
What do the chicks eat?
Chicks feed mainly on insects. To feed them, the females dig their paws from the soil of ants and their pupae, which make up the bulk of the diet of young animals.
If the watering hole is far from the nesting place, the chicks can get along with dew drops and the liquid contained in the feed.
Important! In the summertime, the bustard diet consists mainly of animal food, while in winter it consumes more vegetation. The menu of chicks is mainly insects.
During the day, the bird has at least two meals. The amount of feed consumed per day is 100 g or more.
As the bustard's life description shows, this bird leads a daily life. In search of feed goes in the morning and evening.
The exception is cloudy weather, when individuals can feed all day. At lunchtime, the bustard prefers to relax, comfortably sitting on the ground.
Birds prefer to be located in the shade of high vegetation.
Important! Flights made by bustards also occur in the daytime .
In the period after nesting, birds keep in large flocks, which can number up to one hundred individuals. Such groups form birds of the same sex.
Individuals that do not participate in breeding are kept in flocks throughout the year. This includes females who have lost their clutches.
Males reach puberty by 6 years, females mature earlier - in 3-4 years. Nesting lasts from April to June. Bustard lays one to three eggs once a year.
However, most often in the clutch there are two eggs. The female carries them with a frequency of 1-2 days.
In the clutch, most often two eggs
Current in males begins immediately after returning from wintering. For the marriage ritual, they choose an open area on a field site or on a hilltop.
Dancing in the air is extremely rare, and then only in some individuals. Current males gather in a group and begin their ritual at a distance from each other.
When females appear nearby, they become excited, which sometimes leads to fights between individuals.
The male performs mating dance
Bustards do not create pairs. If they add up, then only for a short time. The male will not leave indifferent the description of the mating dance: he puffs feathers, raises his tail and greatly inflates the voluminous throat sac.
In the photo in this position, it seems much larger than it actually is. Wearing a festive "outfit", the male pulls his head in and performs peculiar movements.
Mating takes place directly on the current. After that, the females go to lay eggs.
How the nest works
Bird nests are arranged right on the ground. The female pulls out a hole with paws with a diameter of about 25-40 cm.
She does not lay the litter as such, but the leaves and stems of plants get to the bottom of the nest. There are several options for placing the nest:
- on open ground;
- under the branches of shrubs;
- in the midst of tall grass.
Sometimes a bustard can make a nest on plowed land. Then, after the emergence of seedlings, the masonry will be well covered. The distance between the nests varies from a few hundred to forty meters.
The time for masonry largely depends on environmental conditions and air temperature. Bustard, living in the south, lays eggs in late April.
Females from populations living in the northern regions lay eggs later, in early May. In this case, the delay can reach two to three weeks.
It happens that the female loses her clutch. In this case, sometimes she lays eggs again. Probably, this circumstance explains why insufficiently hatched masonry was found.
In one nest there are mainly 2-3 eggs in the form of an ellipse of dark olive or clay color with dark inclusions.
An oily sheen of the shell is noticeable, by the end of the incubation period it becomes more pronounced.
Hatching lasts about four weeks. The bird sits tightly on its eggs. If a female notices danger nearby, she lurks and, due to camouflage color, is lost against the background of grass.
Due to the color range of plumage, a large bird becomes almost invisible even among low vegetation. Twice a day, the female leaves the clutch for feeding.
Lunch lasts no more than 40 minutes. In the morning, the bird leaves in search of food from 8 to 12 hours, in the evening - from 17 to 21 hours. The distance from the nest is not more than 400 m.
Bustard in tall grass
How the female takes care of the chicks
The care of the chicks rests entirely with the female, the males are not involved in the care of the offspring. The female hatches the newly hatched chicks from the beak, at this time they move little and are completely defenseless.
At first, she herself brings them insects and feeds them. 3-5 days after the release of the shell, the chicks begin to take food themselves.
After two weeks, they can feed on their own, although they are still fed. Freshly hatched chicks that do not have time to dry out are in the nest under the control of the female.
The downy color is buffy, with dark spots and stripes. After 4 days, they walk nearby. Youngsters learn to fly at the age of 5-6 weeks. At this point, the weight of the bird is up to 2 kg.
The female carefully guards her chicks. Noticing the threat, she gives them a signal. In response, the chicks hide in the grass, clinging to the soil and straightening their necks.
It is noticeable in the photo that they are perfectly masked against the background of field herbs. Noticing the approach of the enemy, the bird pretends to be sick and tries to take him away. In case of critical danger, she attacks the enemy.
Bustard nestling camouflages on grass background
By early August, young growth is ready to leave the nest. Grown chicks gather in flocks and go to roam. This journey will last until next spring.
Relationship with people
Bustard is in the Red Book. The number of these birds decreased due to uncontrolled hunting and the use of land suitable for nesting for economic purposes.
To prevent a decrease in numbers, measures are being taken to protect nests, collect eggs from failed clutches and keep them in the incubator.
Bustard is known for its caution. Suspecting danger, it can close a person close, and then imitate a wounded bird to distract attention from the masonry.
Bustard is a careful bird
Bustard is recognized as the largest flying bird. She is also known for her caution. During the mating season, males perform a unique dance.
At the moment, the species is listed in the Red Book, measures are being taken to preserve populations.
Bustard Bird: Fast Steppe Inhabitant
Bustard is recognized as the heaviest of flying birds, this steppe inhabitant mainly moves on the ground and quickly runs in case of danger. Individuals are considered omnivorous, in their diet plant foods (seeds, shoots, wild garlic) and animals (insects, rodents, frogs), in the mating season, males perform a spectacular dance.