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A photo of a Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax), male
Little Bustard, Male

Little Bustard

Tetrax tetrax

The little bustard, Tetrax tetrax, is the sole representative of its genus in the bustard family. Despite being the smallest Palearctic bustard, it is comparable in size to a pheasant, with a length of 42–45 cm (17–18 in), a wingspan of 90–110 cm (35–43 in), and a weight of approximately 830 g (29 oz). The male, particularly during the breeding season, is distinguishable by its brown upperparts and white underparts, complemented by a grey head and a striking black neck bordered by white bands.

Identification Tips

In flight, the little bustard reveals extensive white on its long wings. The breeding male's black neck with white borders is a key feature for identification. Females and non-breeding males lack this neck pattern, with females being darker below than males. Immature birds resemble females. Both sexes are typically silent, but the male can produce a unique "raspberry-blowing" call: prrt.

Habitat

The preferred habitat of the little bustard includes open grassland and undisturbed cultivation, with vegetation tall enough to provide cover. The species exhibits a stately slow walk and is more inclined to run than fly when disturbed. It is known to be gregarious, particularly in winter.

Distribution

The little bustard breeds in Southern Europe and across Western and Central Asia. While southernmost European populations tend to be resident, others migrate southward for the winter. The species has experienced a decline in its range, including the extinction of the central European population that once bred in Hungary's grasslands.

Behaviour

The little bustard is a nocturnal migrant, with males making frequent stopovers in various croplands. It has a slow and dignified walk and tends to run rather than fly when alarmed. The species is sociable, especially during the non-breeding season.

Song & Calls

The male little bustard's distinctive call is a "raspberry-blowing" sound, transcribed as prrt, which is not commonly heard.

Breeding

The male little bustard engages in a flamboyant display involving foot stamping and leaping into the air. Females lay 3 to 5 eggs on the ground, which is typical of bustard nesting behavior.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivore, the little bustard's diet consists of seeds, insects, rodents, and reptiles.

Conservation Status

The little bustard is currently classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss throughout its range has led to a decline in its population. The species has also been affected by illegal hunting, as evidenced by the controversial shooting of a rare visitor in Cyprus's United Nations Buffer Zone in 2013.

Little Bustard Sounds


Recorded by: © 
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Little Bustard Fun Facts

Did you know?
Along with calling, a displaying Little Bustard with also stamp its feet and flash its wings whilst doing short leaps.

Little Bustards on Birda

Sightings

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