The black bustard has an arresting appearance, with a strong mottled pattern of dark brown and white plumage on the back, bordered with white, which contrasts boldly with the rest of the black body. The tail is a little greyer, with two broad black bars. The head is also black, with a white patch behind each orange-brown eye, and a slight crest of feathers at the back of the head is barred gold, brown and white. The bill is pinkish with a grey culmen, and the legs are bold yellow. Female black bustards have browner plumage than males and have more mottling on the upperparts, whitish breast and black belly (2).
- Also known as
- black korhaan.
- Afrotis atra, Otis atra.
- Length: 50 cm (2)
- 700 g (2)
Black bustard biology
Very little is known about the biology and ecology of the black bustard. Its diet is known to include vegetable matter and insects, and the nest is a simple grass-lined scrape, into which one to two eggs are laid (2).
The timing of breeding in this species is not clear; one report states that the breeding season occurs between August to October (2), while another suggests it spans October to March with a peak in November (4).
Black bustard range
The black bustard occurs only in South Africa, from Little Namaqualand, south to Cape Town and east to Grahamstown (2).
Black bustard habitat
This striking bird inhabits shrublands of the fynbos and karoo, in areas where there is little grass and tree cover (4). It is also often found in cereal cropland (2).
Black bustard status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
Black bustard threats
The black bustard, which has been classified as not threatened by the IUCN (1), is apparently a common species (2). However, it is possible that numbers may have decreased in the south-western Cape Province due to habitat destruction (4).
Black bustard conservation
The black bustard is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). Further research on the biology and ecology of this bird would be highly desirable (2).
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- A ridge along the upper bill of a bird, from the tip of the bill to the forehead.
- The natural shrubland vegetation occurring in the southwestern and southern Cape of South Africa, holding the greatest diversity of plant species in the world. Fynbos is characterised by tall shrubs with large leaves, heath-like shrubs, wiry reed-like plants, and bulbous herbs.
- A semi-desert region of South Africa.
- IUCN Red List (June, 2007)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- CITES (June, 2007)
- Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. and Brown, C.J. (1997) The Atlas of Southern African Birds. Volume 1: Non-Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.