Red-crested bustard

Red-crested bustard
Lophotis ruficrista

Photo by Francesco Veronesi (Flickr)

Common name:
red-crested bustard (en); sisão-de-poupa-vermelha (pt); outarde houppette (fr); sisón moñudo austral (es); rotschopftrappe (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Otididae

This species is found from southern Angola and Zambia, through north-eastern Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and into southern Mozambique and northern South Africa.

These birds are 50 cm long and weigh about 680 g.

The red-crested bustard is found in dry savannas and scrublands, favouring areas dominated by mopane Colospermum mopane, Acacia, cluster-leaf Terminalia, Zambezi teak Baikiaea plurijaga and miombo Brachystegia.

They feed mainly on invertebrates, namely termites, beetles, grasshoppers, bugs, butterflies, ants, centipedes, solifugids and spiders, also taking seeds, berries and leaves of various plants.

Red-crested bustards breed in September-April. They are polygynous, with males performing elaborate displays to attract multiple females and having no further part in the breeding process after mating. Each female lays 1-2 eggs, either directly on the ground or in a shallow scrape in the soil, often among dense leaf litter. She incubates the eggs alone for 20-23 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, but rely on the mother for food during the first few days. Afterwards they begin feeding themselves, but continue to rely on the mother for protection, and fledge 5-6 weeks after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common in much of this range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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