128 Great Bustard
(Otis tarda)


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. Displaying males make hollow umb sound. Alarm call a short, nasal bark. Young birds have a soft, trilling call.


After a serious decline, the population of the Great Bustard in Hungary now seems to be stable. Main strongholds of the population are east of the River Tisza: Maros-Körös Plain, Nagy- and Kis-Sárrét, Bihar Plain, Hortobágy. Also breeds in the Kiskunság, Heves Plain, Borsodi-Mezőség, and Little Plain. Resident, but some birds move southwards in harsh winters.

Can be found in the following IBAs

07 Bihar Plain (qualifying bird for IBA)
09 Borsodi-Mezőség (qualifying bird for IBA)
12 Csanád Pusztas (qualifying bird for IBA)
13 Cserebökény Pusztas of Szentes
15 Ecseg Pusztas of Dévaványa (qualifying bird for IBA)
26 Heves Plain (qualifying bird for IBA)
27 Hortobágy and Lake Tisza (qualifying bird for IBA)
32 Alkaline Pusztas of Upper Kiskunság (qualifying bird for IBA)
33 Kis-Sárrét (Biharugra)
34 Kolon Lake
37 Moson Plain (qualifying bird for IBA)
44 Alkaline Lakes of Kiskunság (qualifying bird for IBA)

Great Bustard pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008