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Habitats & Key Sites

Great Bustard occurs across middle latitudes in open lowlands and undulating areas, but avoids rocky terrains, deserts, wetlands and highly forested areas.

Breeding habitat

Before human intervention, Great Bustard was probably confined to natural steppes and similar grassland habitats. Its range has increased with the expansion of open farmland areas and it readily breeds in various low lying crops such as wheat, barley, alfalfa, fallow land and occasionally also in others with ample and varied food.

Wintering habitat

Great Bustards mostly winter on oilseed rape or alfalfa fields where they feed on green parts of these plants.

Key sites

A hundred years ago Great Bustard has still populated most suitable areas in the Carpathian basin. However, its range became significantly fragmented during the 20th century. Today, the Middle European population occur at fewer than 10 sites in each country where it still breeds. Most of these sites were identified as Important Bird Areas by BirdLife International and in the EU member states they are also protected as Special Protection Areas. Currently, four isolated sub-populations can be distinguished within the Middle European population: the German, the West Pannonian (shared by Austria, Hungary and Slovakia), the East Pannonian and the Ukrainian ones.

Important Bird Areas for Great Bustard >>
Click on the link above and then scroll to "Important Bird Area Distribution". Click on the name of the selected IBA to see details about the site including population size. If you click on "Map" a Google Map application will show the location of the IBA.

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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 »

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