This species has suffered rapid population reductions across most of its range owing to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat, as well as hunting. Although populations in its Iberian stronghold have stabilised and possibly increased, hunting in Central Asia results in high rates of adult mortality, and land-use changes in eastern Europe, Russia and central Asia may have a significant impact on this species's population and the extent of its remaining habitat, such that it is likely to continue declining at a rapid rate over the next three generations. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. Should research show the species to be declining at a more moderate rate, it would warrant downlisting to a lower category of threat.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
75-105 cm. Large, grey-and-brown bustard. Grey head and neck, brown barred black above. White underparts with reddish-brown breast-band, developing with age in males. Males significantly larger than females and develop a gular pouch and long white whiskers during the breeding season. Upright stance and deliberate walk. In flight, powerful regular wing beats resemble an eagle, but does not glide. Voice Displaying males make hollow umb sound. Alarm call a short, nasal bark. Young birds have a soft, trilling call.
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Alonso, J. C.; Martín, C. A.; Alonso, J. A.; Palacín, C.; Magaña, M.; Lane, S. J. 2004. Distribution dynamics of a great bustard metapopulation throughout a decade: influence of conspecific attraction and recruitment. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 1659-1674.
Alonso, J. C.; Morales, M. B.; Alonso, J.A. 2000. Partial migration, and lek and nesting area fidelity in female Great Bustards. Condor 102: 127-136.
Alonso, J. C.; Palacín, C. 2010. The world status and population trends of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda): 2010 update. Chinese Birds 1(2): 141-147.
Alonso, J.C., Martin, C.A., Palacin, C., Martin, B. and Magana, M. 2005. The great bustard Otis tarda in Andalusia, southern Spain: status, distribution and trends. Ardeola 52(1): 67-78.
Alonso, J.C., Palacin, C. and Martin, C.A. 2003. Status and recent trends of the great bustard (Otis tarda) population in the Iberian Peninsula. Biological Conservation 110(2): 185-195.
Antonchikov, A. N. 2008. The great bustard. In: Zubakin, V. and Lubimova, K. (eds), Rare avian species in the Important Bird Areas of Russia, pp. 45-50. Russian Bird Conservation Union., Moscow.
Antonchikov, A. N. 2011. Conservation of the great and little bustards in Volgograd region. Nauchnaya kniga, Saratov, Russia.
Bankovics, A.; Lóránt, M. 2008. Conservation of Otis tarda in Hungary - Layman's Report.
Barati, A.; Amerifar, A. A. 2008. On the status of the Great Bustard, Otis tarda Linnaeus, 1758 (Aves: Otididae) in Kurdistan Province, Iran. Zoology in the Middle East: 41-48.
Chan, S.; Goroshko, O. 1998. Action plan for the conservation of the Great Bustard. BirdLife Asia, Tokyo.
Dawes, A. 2008. Great Bustards: conservation through nest management and rear and release methods. Proceedings of a Great Bustard Group conference Salisbury, England, 26th - 29th November 2007. Great Bustard Group, Winterbourne Gunner, Wiltshire, UK.
Faragó, S. 1993. Development of Great Bustard populations in Hungary in the period 1981--1990. Folia Zoologica 42: 221-236.
Kollar, H. P. 1996. Action plan for the Great Bustard (Otis tarda). In: Heredia, B.; Rose, L.; Painter, M. (ed.), Globally threatened birds in Europe: action plans, pp. 245-260. Council of Europe, and BirdLife International, Strasbourg.
Magaña, M.; Alonso, J. C.; Martín, C. A.; Bautista, L. M.; Martín, B. 2010. Nest-site selection by Great Bustards Otis tarda suggests a trade-off between concealment and visibility. Ibis 152(1): 77-89.
Martin, C. A.; Alonso, J. C.; Morales, M. B.; Lane, S. J. 2001. Seasonal movements of male Great Bustards in central Spain. Journal of Field Ornithology 72: 504-508.
Morales, M. B., Alonso, J. C., Alonso, J. A. and Martín, E. 2000. Migration patterns in male great bustards (Otis tarda). Auk 117: 493-498.
Nagy, Szabolcs. 2009. International single species action plan for the Western Palearctic population of Great Bustard, Otis tarda tarda. BirdLife International on behlaf of the European Commission.
Palacín, C., Alonso, J. C., Alonso, J. A., Martín, C. A., Magaña, M. and Martín, B. 2009. Differential migration by sex in the great bustard: possible consequences of an extreme sexual size dimorphism. Ethology 115: 617-626.
Palacín, C., Alonso, J.C., Alonso, J.A., Martín, C.A. & Magaña, M. 2011. Cultural transmission and flexibility of partial migration patterns in a long-lived bird, the Great Bustard Otis tarda. Journal of Avian Biology 42: 301â€“308.
Palacín, C.; Alonson, J. C. 2008. An updated estimate of the world status and population trends of the Great Bustard Otis tarda. Ardeola 55(1): 13-25.
Pinto, M.; Rocha, P.; Moreira, F. 2005. Long-term trends in Great Bustard (Otis tarda) populations in Portugal suggest concentration in single high quality area. Biological Conservation 124: 415-423.
Further web sources of information
Action Plan for the Great Bustard in Europe
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Derhé, M., Harding, M., Peet, N. & Symes, A.
Alonso, J. C., Andryucshenko, Y., Antonchikov, A., Goriup, P., Nagy, S. & Kessler, M.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Otis tarda. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/07/2014.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
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Additional resources for this species
|Current IUCN Red List category||Vulnerable|
|Species name author||Linnaeus, 1758|
|Population size||mature individuals|
|Distribution size (breeding/resident)||440,000 km2|
|Links to further information|
|- Additional Information on this species|