Great Indian Bustard
Great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) are from the bustard family (Otididae) and are large birds, they are also known as Indian Bustard. These birds are found in the Indian subcontinent and in the world, they are considered as one of the heaviest flying birds.
They look like Ostrich in appearance and they inhabit the scrubs and dry grassland of the Indian subcontinent. The Great Indian bustard and Blackbuck are often found in the same habitats. In past India had a wide population of Great Indian bustard but in recent years their population drastically decreased.
Physical Features of Great Indian Bustard
It resembles the ostrich because of its long bare legs and horizontal body. The individual may up to 4 ft. (1.2m) high and may weigh up to 15 kilograms. The sizes of both sexes are approximately the same.
The color of the feathers makes the difference in distinguishing between the male and the female. The male Bustard has a whitish neck, black feathers on the top of the head, across the breast the male bustard has a narrow and small band of black feathers, and they have a brown wing which has a gray and black marking.
The black breast band in the female is either absent or discontinuous and on the top of the head, they have a small black crown.
Eating Behaviour of Great Indian Bustard
It is omnivore in nature. But they prefer insects typically beetles and Orthoptera, and as an alternative, they can also eat reptiles, rodents, berries, and grass seeds. They make most of their diet when rainfall is at peak in India that is during Monsoon.
In comparison to the monsoon season, in the cold and dry months, the seeds of peanuts and wheat are usually their diet.
Breeding and Reproduction of Great Indian Bustard
The breeding usually occurs between the month of March and September, when the male inflates and displays its white fluffy feathers.
They typically create nests that are simple and often located in the depression made in the soil in the grasslands and low croplands or maybe on the rocky ground. They usually make new nests year after year because they do not return to the same nest again but sometimes, they use the nests made by another Indian Bustard which they left.
A few things about their mating are known like, they do not form pair bonds because they (both male and female) typically mate with multiple partners which shows that they are promiscuous.
Male attracts the female by loud calls with their fluffy white feathers to their locations which can be heard from the 500 meters. And after the mating, the male leaves the female and she becomes the only caretaker of her eggs, and usually, a single egg lays by the females.
Conservation Status of Great Indian Bustard
They were listed as endangered in the year 1994 in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. But by the year 2011, it was classified as critically endangered in the IUCN list. Because of its drastic decline in the population of the Great Indian bustard.
Now it is estimated that around 50 to 250 birds are there. The Rajasthan with a 175 bird population has the highest number of birds. The primary reason for the decline in the Great Indian bustard population is the degradation and habitat loss. In India activities like mining and road-building leads to a 90% decline in the population of the birds.
To protect the population of the Great Indian bustard from declining the government of India in the year 2012 launched the Great Indian bustard project on the line of the project tiger.
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- Binomial Name: Ardeotis nigriceps
- Other Name: Godawan.
- Description: It looks like Ostrich, and it is one of the heaviest flying birds.
- Size: Heavy bird with long bare legs and horizontal body.
- Habitat: It is found in the Indian subcontinent (India and Pakistan).
- Protection: Indian Bustard got the one of highest protection status in India under the Wildlife protection act of 1972.
- Conservation Status (IUCN Status): Critically Endangered.
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