Bustards, including floricans and korhaans, are large, terrestrial birds living mainly in dry grassland areas and on the steppes of the Old World. They range in length from 40 to 150 cm (16 to 59 in). They make up the family Otididae (formerly known as Otidae). Bustards are omnivorous and opportunistic, eating leaves, buds, seeds, fruit, small vertebrates, and invertebrates.[1]

Temporal range:
MioceneHolocene, 13–0 Ma
Ardeotis kori Etosha
Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Otidimorphae
Order: Otidiformes
Wagler, 1830
Family: Otididae
Rafinesque, 1815
  • Gryzajidae Brodkorb 1967


Bustards are all fairly large with the two largest species, the kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) and the great bustard (Otis tarda), being frequently cited as the world's heaviest flying birds. In both the largest species, large males exceed a weight of 20 kg (44 lb), weigh around 13.5 kg (30 lb) on average and can attain a total length of 150 cm (59 in). The smallest species is the little brown bustard (Eupodotis humilis), which is around 40 cm (16 in) long and weighs around 600 g (1.3 lb) on average. In most bustards, males are substantially larger than females, often about 30% longer and sometimes more than twice the weight. They are among the most sexually dimorphic groups of birds. In only the floricans is the sexual dimorphism reverse, with the adult female being slightly larger and heavier than the male.

The wings have 10 primaries and 16–24 secondary feathers. There are 18–20 feathers in the tail. The plumage is predominantly cryptic.[1]

Behaviour and ecology

Bustards are omnivorous, feeding principally on seeds and invertebrates. They make their nests on the ground, making their eggs and offspring often very vulnerable to predation. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. Most prefer to run or walk over flying. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips, and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays, such as inflating throat sacs or elevating elaborate feathered crests. The female lays three to five dark, speckled eggs in a scrape in the ground, and incubates them alone.[2]


The family Otididae was introduced (as Otidia) by the French polymath Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1815.[3][4] Extinct species from the Paleofile.com website.[5]

Phylogeny of Otididae[6]

L. hartlaubii (Hartlaub's bustard)

L. melanogaster (Black-bellied bustard)


A. nuba (Nubian bustard)

A. ludwigii (Ludwig's bustard)

A. denhami (Denham's bustard)

A. heuglinii (Heuglin's bustard)

A. arabs (Arabian bustard)

A. kori (Kori bustard)

A. nigriceps (Great Indian bustard)

A. australis (Australian bustard)


Tetrax tetrax (Little bustard)

Otis tarda (Great bustard)


C. macqueenii (MacQueen's bustard)

C. undulata (Houbara bustard)

Sypheotides indicus (Lesser florican)

Houbaropsis bengalensis (Bengal florican)


L. ruficrista (Red-crested bustard)

L. savilei (Savile's bustard)

L. gindiana (Buff-crested Bustard)


H. humilis (Little brown bustard)

H. rueppellii (Rüppell's korhaan)

H. vigorsii (Karoo korhaan)


A. afra (Southern black korhaan)

A. afraoides (Northern black korhaan)


E. senegalensis (White-bellied bustard)

E. caerulescens (Blue korhaan)

Family Otididae[7]

  • Genus †Gryzaja Zubareva 1939
    • Gryzaja odessana Zubareva 1939
  • Genus †Ioriotis Burchak-Abramovich & Vekua 1981
    • Ioriotis gabunii Burchak-Abramovich & Vekua 1981
  • Genus †Miootis Umanskaya 1979
    • Miootis compactus Umanskaya 1979
  • Genus †Pleotis Hou 1982
    • Pleotis liui Hou 1982
  • Subfamily Lissotinae Verheyen 1957 non Benesh 1955
  • Subfamily Neotinae Verheyen 1957
    • Genus Neotis Sharpe 1893
    • Genus Ardeotis Le Maout 1853
      • Arabian bustard, Ardeotis arabs (Linnaeus 1758)
        • A. a. lynesi (Bannerman 1930) (Moroccan bustard)
        • A. a. stieberi (Neumann 1907) (great Arabian bustard)
        • A. a. arabs (Linnaeus 1758)
        • A. a. butleri (Bannerman 1930) (Sudan bustard)
      • Australian bustard, Ardeotis australis (Gray 1829)
      • Great Indian bustard, Ardeotis nigriceps (Vigors 1831)
      • Kori bustard, Ardeotis kori (Burchell 1822)
        • A. k. struthiunculus (Neumann 1907) (Northern Kori bustard)
        • A. k. kori (Burchell 1822) (Southern Kori bustard)
  • Subfamily Otidinae Gray 1841
    • Genus Tetrax Forster 1817
      • T. paratetrax (Bocheński & Kuročkin 1987)
      • Little bustard, Tetrax tetrax (Linnaeus 1758) Forster 1817
    • Genus Otis Linnaeus 1758
      • O. bessarabicus Kessler & Gal 1996
      • O. hellenica Boev, Lazaridis & Tsoukala 2014
      • Great bustard, Otis tarda Linnaeus 1758
        • O. t. tarda Linnaeus 1758 (Western great bustard)
        • O. t. dybowskii Taczanowski 1874 (Eastern great bustard)
    • Genus Chlamydotis Lesson 1839
      • C. affinis (Lydekker 1891a) Brodkorb 1967
      • C. mesetaria Sánchez Marco 1990
      • Macqueen's bustard, Chlamydotis macqueenii (Gray 1832)[8]
      • Houbara bustard, Chlamydotis undulata (Jacquin 1784)
        • C. u. fuertaventurae (Rothschild & Hartert 1894) (Canary Islands houbara bustard)
        • C. u. undulata (Jacquin 1784) (North African houbara bustard)
    • Genus Houbaropsis Sharpe 1893
      • Bengal florican, Houbaropsis bengalensis (Statius Müller 1776) Sharpe 1893
        • H. b. bengalensis (Statius Müller 1776) Sharpe 1893
        • H. b. blandini Delacour 1928
    • Genus Sypheotides Lesson 1839
    • Genus Lophotis Reichenbach 1848
    • Genus Eupodotis Lesson 1839
      • Little brown bustard, Eupodotis humilis (Blyth 1855)
      • Karoo korhaan, Eupodotis vigorsii (Smith 1831)
        • E. v. namaqua (Roberts 1932)
        • E. v. vigorsii (Smith 1831)
      • Rüppell's korhaan, Eupodotis rueppellii (Wahlberg 1856)
        • E. r. fitzsimonsi (Roberts 1937)
        • E. r. rueppellii (Wahlberg 1856)
      • Blue korhaan, Eupodotis caerulescens (Vieillot 1820)
      • White-bellied bustard, Eupodotis senegalensis (Vieillot 1821)
        • E. s. barrowii (Gray 1829) (Barrow's/southern white-bellied Bustard)
        • E. s. canicollis (Reichenow 1881) (Somali white-bellied knorhaan)
        • E. s. erlangeri (Reichenow 1905)
        • E. s. mackenziei White 1945
        • E. s. senegalensis (Vieillot 1821) (Senegal bustard)
    • Genus Afrotis Gray 1855

Status and conservation

Apajpuszta, Kiskunsági Puszta - 2013.04.13 (32)
Flying bustards – Apajpuszta, Hungary

Bustards are gregarious outside the breeding season, but are very wary and difficult to approach in the open habitats they prefer.[9] Most species are declining or endangered through habitat loss and hunting, even where they are nominally protected.

United Kingdom

The last bustard in Britain died in approximately 1832, but the bird is being reintroduced through batches of chicks imported from Russia.[9] In 2009, two great bustard chicks were hatched in Britain for the first time in more than 170 years.[10] Reintroduced bustards also hatched chicks in 2010.[11]


Some Indian bustards are also called Floricans. The origin of the name is unclear. Thomas C. Jerdon writes in The Birds of India (1862)

I have not been able to trace the origin of the Anglo-Indian word Florikin, but was once informed that the Little Bustard in Europe was sometimes called Flanderkin. Latham gives the word Flercher as an English name, and this, apparently, has the same origin as Florikin.

— Jerdon's Birds of India, 2nd ed. ii. 625.

The Hobson-Jobson dictionary however casts doubt on this theory stating that

We doubt if Jerdon has here understood Latham correctly. What Latham writes is, in describing the Passarage Bustard, which, he says, is the size of the Little Bustard: Inhabits India. Called Passarage Plover. … I find that it is known in India by the name of Oorail; by some of the English called Flercher. (Suppt. to Gen. Synopsis of Birds, 1787, 229. Here we understand the English to be the English in India, and Flercher to be a clerical error for some form of floriken.


  1. ^ a b del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (editors). (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-20-2
  2. ^ Archibald, George W. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-1-85391-186-6.
  3. ^ Rafinesque, Constantine Samuel (1815). Analyse de la nature ou, Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés (in French). Palermo: Self-published. p. 70.
  4. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. pp. 137, 252.
  5. ^ "Taxonomic lists- Aves". Paleofile.com (net, info). Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  6. ^ Boyd, John (2007). "Otididae" (PDF). John Boyd's website. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Comparison of IOC 7.3 with other world lists". IOC World Bird List. v7.3. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  8. ^ Macqueen's bustard has recently been split from the Houbara bustard as a full species.
  9. ^ a b Bota, G., J. Camprodon, S. Mañosa & M.B. Morales (Editores). (2005). Ecology and Conservation of steppe-land birds. Lynx Editions. Barcelona ISBN 84-87334-99-7; 978-84-87334-99-3.
  10. ^ Wildlife Extra 2009. The First Great Bustard chicks hatch in the UK for 177 years Wildlife Extra, June 2009.
  11. ^ Biodiversity Lab 2010. Reintroduced Great Bustards Breed Again The Biodiversity Lab, University of Bath.


External links

Arabian bustard

The Arabian bustard (Ardeotis arabs) is a species of bustard which is found across the Sahel region of Africa and south western Arabia. It is part of the large-bodied genus, Ardeotis, and, though little known, appears to be a fairly typical species in that group.

Australian bustard

The Australian bustard (Ardeotis australis) is a large ground dwelling bird which is common at grassland, woodland and open agricultural country across northern Australia and southern New Guinea. This bustard stands at about one metre (several feet) high, the wingspan is around twice this length. The species is nomadic, flying to areas when food becomes plentiful, and capable of travelling long distances. They were once widespread and common to open plains of Australia, becoming rare in areas that became populated during European colonisation. The diet of A. australis is omnivorous, they consume the fruit or seed of plants, invertebrates such crickets and grasshoppers, and smaller mammals or reptiles.

It is also commonly referred to as the plains turkey, and in Central Australia as bush turkey, particularly by Aboriginal people, though this name may also be used for the Australian brushturkey as well as the orange-footed scrubfowl.

Bengal florican

The Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), also called Bengal bustard, is a bustard species native to the Indian subcontinent, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List because fewer than 1,000 individuals were estimated to be alive as of 2017.

It is the only member of the genus Houbaropsis.

Black-bellied bustard

The black-bellied bustard (Lissotis melanogaster), also known as the black-bellied korhaan, is an African ground-dwelling bird in the bustard family. Some authorities place it in the genus Eupodotis.


Buttonquail or hemipodes are members of a small family of birds, Turnicidae, which resemble, but are unrelated to, the quails of Phasianidae. They inhabit warm grasslands in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. There are 16 species in two genera, with most species being found in the genus Turnix and only one being found in the genus Ortyxelos.

Buttonquails are small, drab, running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the more richly colored of the sexes. While the quail-plover is thought to be monogamous, Turnix buttonquails are sequentially polyandrous; both sexes cooperate in building a nest in the earth, but normally only the male incubates the eggs and tends the young, while the female may go on to mate with other males. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 12 or 13 days, and the young are able to fly within two weeks of hatching.

Denham's bustard

Denham's bustard, Stanley bustard or Stanley's bustard (Neotis denhami) is a large bird in the bustard family. It breeds in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a species of open ground, including agricultural land, grassland, flood-plains and burnt fynbos. It is resident, but some inland populations move to lower altitudes in winter. The common names for this species refer to the English explorer, Major Dixon Denham, and the English naturalist Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby.

Eurimbula National Park

Eurimbula National Park is a protected area in the locality of Eurimbula, Queensland, Australia, in the Gladstone Region near Agnes Water, 411 km north of Brisbane.

Flag of Wiltshire

There are three flag designs associated with the English county of Wiltshire. Like the proposed flags of many other counties, two of the three have no official status as they were not designed by the College of Arms. One of the designs, the "Bustard Flag", was approved by a full meeting of the Wiltshire Council on 1 December 2009, as a county flag and subsequently registered with the Flag Institute.

Great Indian bustard

The great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) or Indian bustard is a bustard found on the Indian subcontinent. A large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, giving it an ostrich like appearance, this bird is among the heaviest of the flying birds. Once common on the dry plains of the Indian subcontinent, as few as 150 individuals were estimated to survive in 2018 (reduced from an estimated 250 individuals in 2011) and the species is critically endangered by hunting and loss of its habitat, which consists of large expanses of dry grassland and scrub. These birds are often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck. It is protected under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 of India.

Great bustard

The great bustard (Otis tarda) is a bird in the bustard family, the only member of the genus Otis. It breeds in open grasslands and farmland from northern Morocco, South and Central Europe, to temperate Central and East Asia. European populations are mainly resident, but Asian populations migrate farther south in winter. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996.Portugal and Spain now have about 60% of the world's population. It became extinct in Great Britain when the last bird was shot in 1832. Recent attempts to reintroduce it into England have met with some success and there is a population of 40 birds on Salisbury Plain, a British Army training area. Here the lack of public access allows them the freedom needed as a large ground-nesting bird.

Houbara bustard

The houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata), also known as African houbara, is a large bustard native to North Africa, Canary Islands and southwestern Asia, where it lives in arid habitats. It is dull brown with black markings on the wings, a greyish neck and a black ruff along the side of the neck. Males are larger and heavier than females.

The houbara bustard formerly included MacQueen's bustard, which is native to Asia.

Kori bustard

The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is arguably the largest flying bird native to Africa. It is a member of the bustard family, which all belong to the order Otidiformes and are restricted in distribution to the Old World. It is one of the four species (ranging from Africa to India to Australia) in the large-bodied genus Ardeotis. In fact, the male kori bustard may be the heaviest living animal capable of flight.

This species, like most bustards, is a ground-dwelling bird and an opportunistic omnivore. Male kori bustards, which can be more than twice as heavy as the female, attempt to breed with as many females as possible and then take no part in the raising of the young. The nest is a shallow hollow in the earth, often disguised by nearby obstructive objects such as trees.

Little bustard

The little bustard (Tetrax tetrax) is a large bird in the bustard family, the only member of the genus Tetrax. The genus name is from Ancient Greek and refers to a gamebird mentioned by Aristophanes and others.It breeds in southern Europe and in western and central Asia. Southernmost European birds are mainly resident, but other populations migrate further south in winter. The central European population once breeding in the grassland of Hungary became extinct several decades ago.

This species is declining due to habitat loss throughout its range. It used to breed more widely, for example ranging north to Poland occasionally. It is only a very rare vagrant to Great Britain despite breeding in France.

Although the smallest Palearctic bustard, the little bustard is still pheasant-sized at 42–45 cm (17–18 in) long with a 90–110 cm (35–43 in) wingspan and a weight of 830 g (29 oz). In flight, the long wings are extensively white. The breeding male is brown above and white below, with a grey head and a black neck bordered above and below by white.

The female and non-breeding male lack the dramatic neck pattern, and the female is marked darker below than the male. Immature bustards resemble females. Both sexes are usually silent, although the male has a distinctive "raspberry-blowing" call: prrt.

This species is omnivorous, taking seeds, insects, rodents and reptiles. Like other bustards, the male little bustard has a flamboyant display with foot stamping and leaping in the air. Females lay 3 to 5 eggs on the ground.

This bird's habitat is open grassland and undisturbed cultivation, with plants tall enough for cover. Males and females do not differ markedly in habitat selection. It has a stately slow walk, and tends to run when disturbed rather than fly. It is gregarious, especially in winter.

On 20 December 2013, the Cypriot newspapers 'Fileleftheros' and 'Politis', as well as news website 'SigmaLive', reported the discovery of a dead little bustard in the United Nations Buffer Zone. The bird had been shot by poachers hunting illegally in the zone. The shooting was particularly controversial amongst conservationists and birders since the little bustard is a very rare visitor to Cyprus and had not been officially recorded in Cyprus since December 1979.

MacQueen's bustard

MacQueen's bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) is a large bird in the bustard family. It was earlier included as a subspecies of the houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) and sometimes known as the "Asian houbara". The subspecies are geographically separated from the houbara found west of the Sinai Peninsula in North Africa with a population in the Canary Islands. MacQueen's bustard is found in the desert and steppe regions of Asia, east from the Sinai Peninsula extending across Kazakhstan east to Mongolia. These two species are the only members of the genus Chlamydotis. MacQueen's is a partial latitudinal migrant while the houbara bustard is more sedentary. In the 19th century, vagrants were found as far west of their range as Great Britain. Populations have decreased by 20 to 50% from 1984 to 2004 due mainly to hunting and land-use changes. It is the unofficial provincial bird of Balochistan, Pakistan.

Northern black korhaan

The northern black korhaan (Afrotis afraoides), also known as the white-quilled bustard, is a species of bird in the bustard family, Otididae. It is widely distributed across Southern Africa. Its habitat is primarily open grassland and scrub.

Red-crested korhaan

The red-crested korhaan or red-crested bustard (Lophotis ruficrista) is a species of bird in the family Otididae. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Seventeen Seventy, Queensland

Seventeen Seventy, also written as 1770, is a coastal town and locality in Gladstone Region, Queensland, Australia, built on the site of the second landing in Australia by James Cook and the crew of HM Bark Endeavour in May 1770 (Cook's first landing in what is now the state of Queensland). Originally known as Round Hill – after the creek it sits on – the name was changed on 24 June 1936 after the town allotments were surveyed in 1935 to recognise the historical importance of the town. The community of Seventeen Seventy hold the re-enactment of this historic landing each year as part of the 1770 Festival held in May.

Southern black korhaan

The southern black korhaan (Afrotis afra) or black bustard, is a species of bird in the bustard family, Otididae. This small bird is found in western and southern South Africa, from Little Namaqualand to Cape Town and east to Grahamstown. It has undergone rapid population decline as a result of the loss and fragmentation of its habitat due to the conversion of natural vegetation into agricultural land. Due to this habitat destruction, the species is considered vulnerable for its risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

White-bellied bustard

The white-bellied bustard or white-bellied korhaan (Eupodotis senegalensis) is an African species of bustard. It is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa in grassland and open woodland habitats.

Bustards (order: Otidiformes · family: Otididae)
No subfamily
Birds (class: Aves)
Fossil birds
Human interaction


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