Hartlaub’s bustard (Eupodotis hartlaubii)

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Hartlaub’s bustard fact file

Hartlaub’s bustard description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderGruiformes
FamilyOtididae
GenusEupodotis (1)

Hartlaub’s bustard is a comparatively small bustard, yet maintains the distinctive bustard figure, with a small head set on a long neck, and a bulky body with large legs. Although similar in appearance to the closely related black-bellied bustard (Eupodotis melanogaster), Hartlaub’s bustard can be distinguished by a greyer plumage with more distinctive markings, a lower back and a blackish tail. The female is similar in appearance to the male, but with a cream coloured head and hindneck with dark brown markings, a whitish belly and paler tail (2).

French
Outarde de Hartlaub.
Size
Average male head-body length: 60 cm (2)
Weight
1.5 – 1.6 kg (2)
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Hartlaub’s bustard biology

Despite being competent fliers, bustards are largely ground-dwelling birds, reserving flight for escape from predators (5). The specific feeding habits of Hartlaub’s bustard are largely unknown; however, this bustard is known to forage on the ground in open grasslands for invertebrates and plant material, such as seeds and flowerheads. Similarly, breeding behaviour has not been fully described, yet the breeding season is known to take place between January and June in East Africa, while male courtship displays have been observed during November (2).

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Hartlaub’s bustard range

Scattered across eastern Africa, Hartlaub’s bustard is found in several fragmented populations in eastern Sudan, Ethiopia, northwest and south Somalia, northeast Uganda, northwest and south Kenya and northern Tanzania (2). Owing to its elusive nature, the breeding status of Hartlaub’s bustards is unknown for much of its range, but it is known to breed in Ethiopia and Kenya, while vagrants are occasionally seen beyond the normal range of the breeding season (2) (3) (4).

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Hartlaub’s bustard habitat

Hartlaub’s bustard is associated with lightly wooded grasslands containing Acacia trees, up to 2000 metres above sea level. Habitat selection by Hartlaub’s bustard may change in regions containing black-bellied bustard, with one species replacing another. This behaviour may serve to minimise competition for foraging and nesting opportunities. In Kenya, Hartlaub’s bustard occupies lower drier habitat than black-bellied bustard, while in Ethiopia, Hartlaub’s bustard occupies higher altitude Acacia short-grass savanna (2).

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Hartlaub’s bustard status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Hartlaub’s bustard threats

Due to a dearth of species specific studies, there is a lack of data concerning the impact of threats on wild populations of the little known Hartlaub’s bustard. The species exists in fragmented populations of restricted range, making each population vulnerable to chance natural events, such as disease, while specific threats may vary considerably between localities. Hartlaub’s bustard habitat is vulnerable to overgrazing by domesticated livestock, resulting in possible desertification, while in Somalia the species is believed to have medicinal value, and as a result is directly targeted by hunters (2) (6).

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Hartlaub’s bustard conservation

Considered common in much of its extensive range, Hartlaub’s bustard is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (1). Although the current population trend is considered stable, surveys are required to produce accurate assessments regarding population number, fragmentation, status and threats to this elusive species (1) (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on bird conservation projects in Africa see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

Authenticated (17/03/10) by Mengistu Wondafrash, Executive Director, Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
http://www.ewnhs.org.et/

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Glossary

Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
Vagrant
Found occasionally outside normal range.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World - Hoatzin to Auks. Vol. 3. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (January, 2010)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Global Register of Migratory Species (January, 2010)
    http://www.groms.de/
  5. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  6. Amir, O.G. (2010) Wildlife trade in Somalia. IUCN/SSC Antelope specialist group, Northeast African subgroup. Available at:
    http://www.madhiban.com/somali-wildlife-trade.pdf
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Image credit

Hartlaub’s bustard walking  
Hartlaub’s bustard walking

© Martin B Withers / www.flpa-images.co.uk

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