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Great Indian Bustard - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Indian Bustard

Photo by Vaibhav Mishra
Naliya Grassland, Kutch, Gujarat, India, January 2012
Ardeotis nigriceps


100-122 cm (male), 76-92 cm (female). A huge bird, unmistakable in its range.

  • Brown upperparts
  • Whitish or grey head and neck
  • Black crown with short crest
  • Often with indistinct but broad black breastband
  • Black wing patch with narrow white bars
  • Non-breeding has finely vermiculated grey neck and less voluminous plumes on breast

Females are much smaller, have a white supercilium below black crown, are greyer, have a more distinctly barred neck without plumes and rarely show a breastband.
Immatures are similar to females, but have buff spots on crown, upper back and hindneck, no breastband and a more heavily barred neck and breast.

Photo by Vaibhav Mishra
Naliya Grassland, Kutch, Gujarat, India, March 2013

Similar species

Very similar to Australian Bustard, but ranges don't overlap.


Patchily found in northwestern and central India.
A critically endangered species. Extinct in Pakistan and has been extirpated from more than 90% of its former range. Now confined to small patches of grassland, mostly in nature reserves. Population estimated at less than 300 birds, mainly in Rajasthan. Threatened by rapid habitat loss and hunting.


This is a monotypic species.
Forms a superspecies with Australian Bustard and has been considered conspecific with the latter and Kori Bustard.


Displaying male
Photo by Vaibhav Mishra
Kutch, Gujarat, India, January 2010

Arid and semi-arid grasslands.


Like Kori Bustard this species sits down to drink, unlike other bustards.


An opportunistic feeder. Takes grain, shoots, berries, locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, centipedes, lizards, small snakes and mammals.
Forms small feeding flocks in winter, sometimes associating with antelopes.


Breeding throughout the year, varying with area and rainfall. Displaying male inflates white-feathered gular pouch, folds tail over back and struts about with drooped wings and head held high, calling periodically.
The nest is a shallow scrape, often with no cover. Lays 1 egg, sometimes 2.


A sedentary or seasonally nomadic species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334207

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