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A photo of a Black-bellied Bustard (Lissotis melanogaster), male
Black-bellied Bustard, Male

Black-bellied Bustard

Lissotis melanogaster

The Black-bellied Bustard, known scientifically as Lissotis melanogaster, is a striking ground-dwelling bird native to the African continent. Males are distinguished by their size, measuring between 58 to 65 centimeters in length, and their dramatic plumage. Their upperparts are adorned with black and brown markings on a tawny buff background, while their underparts are a stark black. The head is a bold mosaic of black, white, and buff, and the neck is a buffy brown with a slender black line that descends to join the black breast. Their tails are patterned with brown and buff, featuring several narrow dark brown bands. The wings, when at rest, reveal a white upper surface with a brown triangle at the base, and the flight feathers are tipped with black, save for the outer secondary feathers which are unmarked.

Identification Tips

To identify the Black-bellied Bustard, look for the male's distinctive black underparts and the contrasting white of the wings. The female, however, is more subtly adorned in plain buff with brown mottling on her back and wavy bands on her neck and breast. Juveniles appear duller with a dark grey crown and buff wing spots. Both sexes have a unique neck and rump pattern, and the male's white chin and lores, as well as the female's vermiculations, help distinguish them from the closely related Hartlaub's Bustard.

Habitat

This species thrives in the savannas, cultivated fields, and tall open grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. It shows a preference for regions with higher rainfall and is often found in areas only after significant precipitation.

Distribution

The Black-bellied Bustard is distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, with sightings in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, and Nigeria.

Behaviour

The Black-bellied Bustard exhibits typical bustard feeding habits. During courtship, the male performs a captivating display, retracting his head to his back and emitting a distinctive "zhweeeeee" whistle, followed by a "quock" or "plop" sound accompanied by soft gurgling.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivorous bird, the Black-bellied Bustard's diet consists of a variety of invertebrates, including beetles, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and ants. It also partakes in a selection of vegetables, fruits such as berries, as well as flowers, seeds, and green leaves.

Conservation status

The Black-bellied Bustard is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers that would warrant a higher level of concern.

Black-bellied Bustard Sounds


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