Australian Bustard

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Common Name: Australian Bustard
Scientific Name: Ardeotis australis

Size: 43.3- 47.3 inches (110-120 cm)

Habitat: Australia; found across continental Australia and occasionally in southern Papua New Guinea and Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia. It has all but disappeared from south-eastern Australia, and is less abundant elsewhere, particularly south of the tropics. Local population size varies strongly with rainfall making assessment of trends difficult.

It inhabits grassland, including tussock grassland, Triodia hummock grassland, grassy woodland, low shrublands, and structurally similar artificial habitats, such as croplands and golf-courses. It will also use denser vegetation, when this has been temporarily opened up by recent burning. In northern Australia it may disperse widely to follow recently-burnt grounds

Status: Near Threatened. Global population: 10,000 - 99,999. This bird remains relatively common and widespread across most of northern Australia, but its range appears to have contracted in the south-east of the continent during the last century, perhaps due to hunting (now illegal except for indigenous Australians), feral predators such as pigs and foxes and habitat destruction. Its nomadic habits make it difficult to assess.

The Australian Bustard is not listed as threatened on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Australian Bustard is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. Under this Act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of this species has been prepared. On the 2007 advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in Victoria, this species is listed as critically endangered.

Diet: Seeds, fruit, centipedes, insects, mollusks, lizards, young birds and small rodents.

Nesting: The male is up to 1.2 m (47 in) tall with a 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) wingspan. The average weight for males is 7.5 kg (17 lb). The female is quite a bit smaller at 80 cm (31 in) tall and 3 kg (6.6 lb) in weight but is similarly colored.

It lays one, or occasionally two, eggs on the ground, where possible along a boundary between open grasslands and more protective shrubland or woodlands.

Cool Facts: When disturbed, Australian Bustards often adopt a cryptic pose with neck erect and bill pointed skywards. They may stalk gradually away or run if alarmed, taking flight as a last resort.

It is also commonly referred to in Central Australia as the 'Bush Turkey', particularly by Aboriginal people. It is an important food source for Aboriginal people from Central Australia, and is still eaten today. The white feathers of the bird are used for ceremonial purposes.

The Arrernte name for this bird is kere artewe. The Luritja name is kipara. The Larrakia name for this bird is danimila. There are important "Dreaming" stories associated with the Bush Turkey. A number of artists painting in the desert today paint bush turkey "Dreaming". This means they have been given stories of the origins of the turkey in the Dreamtime and are entitled to tell this story and paint about it

Found in Songbird ReMix Australia Volume III

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