CMS|BirdLife International|Local BirdLife organisation|MME Monitoring Centre|FAQ|Contact Us
» International Great Bustard Online Database

The Great Bustard is the heaviest flying bird species in Europe. The hen weights 4 to 6 kg, while the weight of an old cock can reach even 16 kilograms. The male’s breast, the lower parts of its neck’s side, and the small coverts are rusty, while the head and the upper parts of the neck are bluish-grey. From the gape long, bristle-like moustache stretches backwards. A rusty belt runs through its breast while the lower parts of the body are white. When displaying the cock „turns out” its feathers, so it looks like a huge white ball. The colours of the hen are paler. There is no belt on its breast, and no moustache feathers either. Juveniles are similar to female.  The Bustard has long, massive legs, with only three fingers, which is in relation with the walking and running life-style.

Great Bustard - adult male (Photo: Béla Motkó)

Annual life cycle

The breeding season of the Great Bustard begins in the end of March or the beginning of April with an extremely spectacular ceremony, the so called display. Males and females gather at traditional lekking grounds where males try to attract females. While trying to impress the hen the cock inflates its neck, shoots up its tail feathers, while showing the reverse of its wings. Egg-laying begins in the last week of April, and lasts till the end of May. The hen lays it’s two-three eggs in a simple depression on the ground in vegetation which provides enough cover and, at the same time, good oulook for the female. After 25-28 days the chicks hatch and leave the nest immediately, but remain in its vicinity for a few days. The hen feeds them bill-to-bill for about two weeks and theu remain together with them until the juvenile males become independent in the first winter season and the juvenile females only before the next mating season. In the beginning, they only feed on small invertebrate animals, later they eat green plants, seeds of weed and grains, insects, worms, snails, small rodents, lizards just like the adult birds. In winter, birds in the Middle-European population usually gather at wintering places relatively close to their breeding grounds. However, when fields are covered with thick layer of snow, and especially when the surface of snow is crusted with ice, they may migrate to south as far as Italy and Greece, because they are not able to reach their food.

+ Latest News »
+ Instructions »
+ Home »
+ Login »
+ Forgot your password? »
+ Create an Account »
+ Privacy Policy »
1st International Symposium on Great Bustard
Conservation and Monitoring Network

(December 5-6, 2009, Beijing, China)
First Circular, Call for Pre-registration and...(06/06/2009) more »
By the end of the summer of 2006 the overall extension of the fields which are directly involved in the protection of Great Bustard in Hungary has reached almost 1500 hectares. (09/11/2006) more »
Is the export of chicks to England endangering the Russian population of Great Bustard? - one of the questions that had to be answered by great bustard conservation experts of MME (Hungarian Ornithological Society), who were requested to help the conservation work with their experiences in the...(19/07/2006) more »

Quick menu

+ Latest Uploads »
+ My Uploads »
+ Statistical Maps »
+ FAQ »
+ Home »
Contact Us|Privacy Policy|Terms and Conditions

© BirdLife International and MME/BirdLife Hungary - Monitoring Centre 2006

Further information: Terms and Conditions