Australian Bustard

Habitat: Grassland

Australian Bustards are found on dry plains, grasslands and open woodland. They are ground-dwelling bird. Once widespread in open habitats across much of mainland Australia they are still widespread in the north but are increasingly rare or extinct in the south.

The Bustard has a ‘snooty’ appearance as it walks sedately along, holding its head and neck high. When disturbed, it will walk away slowly, still watching. When it does fly, the flight is strong, with the ends of the wing feathers characteristically spread and up-curved. It may be found in small groups or singly. They are nomadic, searching for food and numbers may sometimes irrupt (build up rapidly) and then disperse again. In some areas, such as the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, there is regular seasonal movement.

Australian Bustards are omnivorous, eating leaves, buds, seeds, fruit, frogs, lizards, and invertebrates. They walk slowly, picking at food items as they wander, sometimes at twilight or after dark.

Australian Bustards breed from October to December, in good years of rain they may breed more than once a year. Bustards are usually silent, but males roar or boom during courtship displays. When mating, the males clear a display area, then inflate a large throat sac, producing a loud, deep roaring noise, while they strut around with their tails cocked high.  The large, olive-green egg (1 egg clutch size) may be laid on bare ground or in the grass, but usually where the parent bird has a good view of approaching predators. The female sits low, well camouflaged, and she incubates (24 days) and cares for the young.