#CreatureFeature – Ardeotis australis (Australian Bustard)

Ardeotis australis, also known as the Austalian Bustard or Bibilya in Noongar, is a large ground-dwelling bird commonly found in grasslands, woodlands, and open agricultural areas within the Northern Agricultural Region.

Photo: Ian Sutton, Wikimedia Commons

Although the Australian Bustard was once found throughout Australia, their habitat and numbers have decreased due to climate change, habitat destruction, and extensive or frequent fires. They are more commonly found in the north, becoming increasingly rare in the southern half of Australia.

Recently, the bustard has been down-listed to ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2012, which is promising news for this native species.

The Bustard can be found in small groups or singularly, and are a nomadic species, often traveling to locations based on the availability of food sources.

Photo: Petr Baum, Wikimedia Commons

One of Australia’s largest ground-dwelling birds, a male stands on average at 1-1.2 meter in height and 4.3 – 12 kilograms in weight with a wingspan twice this length. Females are significantly smaller, at approximately 80 centimeters and weighing 3.2 kilograms.

While the Bustard is largely terrestrial and capable of traveling long distances, it is often observed simply walking sedately along with its head held high. As an omnivore, their diet is diverse and varies from insects, mice, other birds, and small reptiles to fruits, seeds, and plants.

A unique characteristic of the Australian Bustard is their nesting habits. They do not use a classic nest for their egg, rather the large olive green egg/s (one or two normally) is laid into a shallow scrape on bare ground or beside grass tussocks, where the parent can view in case of approaching predators.

Reference: Atlas of Living Australia – The Australian Bustard, Ardeotis australis

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