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Bustards: Otididae

Behavior And Reproduction

Bustards range from solitary, or, living alone, to highly social, forming groups of as many as thousands in the case of the little bustard. Bustards that occupy semi-desert habitats generally tend to be more solitary. Many species of bustards migrate, moving from a breeding habitat to a wintering habitat. Asian bustard species, in particular, frequently migrate to avoid harsh winter conditions.


In many bustard species, males have special feathers that they use in courtship displays during the breeding season to attract females. These males put all their effort into mating with as many females as possible. They do not help with nest-building, with incubating the eggs, or with feeding or caring for the chicks once they hatch.

Bustards often breed during the rainy season in their habitat. Males perform elaborate courtship displays to attract females. These can involve booming calls, showing off long feathers that only the males possess, fanning out the tail, and performing leaps. Males generally do not participate in either nest building, incubating (warming) the eggs, or raising chicks. The female lays anywhere from one to six eggs at a time. These hatch after twenty to twenty-five days. Bustard young are precocial (pree-KOH-shul), meaning that they hatch at a fairly advanced stage of development. They are covered with down and are able to move, usually walking within a few hours of hatching.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsBustards: Otididae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Great Bustard (otis Tarda): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, BUSTARDS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS