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Blue Bustard Eupodotis caerulescens
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Near Threatened, as it is expected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline owing to habitat loss to intensive agriculture. Further data may show that the species qualifies for a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
Eupodotis caerulescens is virtually endemic to South Africa, extending only marginally into western Lesotho. The total South African population has been estimated at 1,500-5,000 individuals, but this may be an underestimate as the population in the former Transvaal alone has been estimated to exceed 10,000 individuals, with between 1,000 and 3,000 in the proposed Grassland Biosphere Reserve centred around Volksrust and Wakkerstroom.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 12,000-15,000 individuals in total, roughly equivalent to 8,000-10,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is currently suspected to be stable although ongoing habitat destruction may lead to future declines.

It is found on high grassveld, usually above 1,500 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996), where it inhabits open, fairly short grassland and a mixture of grassland and karoo dwarf-shrubland, with termite mounds and few or no trees (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It also inhabits old and fallow cropland, pastures and winter cultivation (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It feeds on insects, scorpions, small lizards and vegetable matter. It apparently benefits from small-scale agriculture, as it regularly forages in crop fields and planted pastures. Breeding occurs from August to April, mainly in October and November (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The nest is situated on bare open ground, often in short, thick grass or cropland (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The clutch-size ranges from one to three eggs, and the incubation period is 24-28 days (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The young stay with their parents for up to two years, in a breeding system that appears to involve group-territorialism (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

It does not appear to have decreased in the west of its range, but seems certain to have decreased to some extent in the east owing to dense human settlement and large-scale agriculture. Habitat loss looks set to continue throughout its range (Barnes 2000), with intensive agriculture appearing to be the main threat (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in at least 15 nature reserves in South Africa, but these sites may protect only 100-500 individuals (Harrison et al. 1997a). Conservation Actions Proposed
Carefully monitor its populations (Barnes 2000). Monitor rates of habitat loss within its range. Protect additional areas of the species's habitat.

Barnes, K. N. 2000. The Eskom Red Data Book of birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Harrison, J. A.; Allan, D. G.; Underhill, L. G.; Herremans, M.; Tree, A. J.; Parker, V.; Brown, C. J. 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Eupodotis caerulescens. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Otididae (Bustards)
Species name author (Vieillot, 1820)
Population size 8000-10000 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 404,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change