Bustards Otididae

Class: Aves

Order: Gruiformes

Family: Otididae

Number of species: 26 species

CHAPTER

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Bustards vary in size from 15 to 47 inches (40 to 120 centimeters) in length. They are among the heaviest flying birds, weighing 1 to 42.2 pounds (0.45 to 19 kilograms). Male bustards are generally larger than females, although there is less difference between the sexes in smaller bustard species. Bustards have stout bodies with long legs and long necks. The bills tend to be short and straight. Bustards have large wings and small feet with no hind toe. Since Bustards do not perch on tree branches, preferring instead to remain on the ground, hind toes are not needed. The large wings are helpful when flying away from potential predators.

Bustards are generally colored to blend in with their environments. The back is brownish, with either white or dark bellies. Some bustard species have white or black patches on the wings, which are hidden when the wings are folded and only revealed during flight. In some species of bustards males and females are similarly patterned, while males are brighter in other species. In a number of bustards, males also have long feathers on the head, neck, or chest that are used to attract females.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Bustards are found across much of the Old World, including Africa, Europe, and Asia, as well as in Australia.

HABITAT

Bustards are found primarily in grassland habitats with low vegetation where they are able to look out over long distances.

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Some bustards occupy taller grasslands or even slightly wooded areas. Bustards are also frequently found in cultivated fields.

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