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Australian Bustard - BirdForum Opus

Male by njlarsen
near Mt. Molloy, Cairns, Queensland, August 2006
Ardeotis australis

Identification

Male - 1.2 m; female 80cm. At a distance seen as a mostly pale bird with browner upperside. Closer up, one will notice dark crown (black in male, brown in female), black band across lower breast, and black-white spotting along lower edge of wing. Displaying Male inflates breast sac - see Behaviour.

Distribution

Photo by Hans&Judy Beste
South West Queensland, Australia, October 2016

Lowlands of Australia (except south-western/eastern) and southern New Guinea.

Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

Habitat

Scrubby areas, spinifex, grasslands and grass-woodland.

Behaviour

This species is nomadic and partly migratory, leading to it being found further south in summer and north in winter.

Movement

In flight looks heavy with slow wing beats and feet protruding behind the tail. It is probably more likely to try to walk away than to fly away from danger.

Diet

In feeding, the Australian Bustard will avoid the heat of mid day. The diet includes leaves, buds, seeds, fruit, frogs, lizards, and invertebrates. Can be abundant around swarms of grasshoppers, or where house mice are common.

Breeding

Male in display will inflate a breast sac with white feathers so that this reaches the ground, and fan the tail over the back.

In breeding, one to three eggs get laid on the ground, no proper nest is made. The female sits on the eggs and cares for the young.

References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Pizzey, G. & Knight, F. 1997. Birds of Australia (Collins Field Guide). HarperCollins Publishers, London. ISBN 0-00-220132-1

Recommended Citation

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