Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bustard, any bird of the genus Otis, typical of the family, Otididae, found in open tracts over the eastern hemisphere, except in Madagascar and the islands of the Malay Archipelago. The species have the bill straight, with the point of the upper mandible rounded; the nostrils oval, lateral, the legs long and naked above the tarsal joint; the three toes united at the base, directed forwards, and edged with membrane; the wings of moderate length, and rounded in a slight degree. The general form somewhat resembles that of a very large domestic fowl. These birds live in small companies, and feed on vegetables, seeds, insects, and worms. They run with great rapidity, using their wings, like Cursorial birds (with which they were formerly classed), to increase their speed, and flying low when forced to take wing. The males are polygamous, and the nest is extremely simple, sometimes a mere hole or depression in the ground. Otis tarda, the Great Bustard, from the plains of Europe and the steppes of Tartary, is rather more than three feet in length, weighs nearly thirty pounds, female much smaller; head and upper part of neck greyish-white, patch of slaty blue bare skin on side of neck, partly hidden in the breeding season by a long moustache of wiry feathers on each side; upper surface pale chestnut barred with black; reddish orange on upper part of breast, rest of under-surface white. The gular pouch appears to be only a dilatable part of the oesophagus, greatly inflated during the show off of the males. The flesh is much esteemed for the table. This bird was formerly a native of Britain, inhabiting the downs of Wiltshire, the Fen country, Norfolk, and the Yorkshire moors. The last known specimen of the wild race was killed near Swaffham in 1838, and is now in the Norwich museum. Many visitors, however, are recorded from time to time. O. tetrax, the Little Bustard, from the south of Europe and North Africa, is an accidental visitor, generally in the winter. There are several other Bustards inhabiting Asia and Africa, the largest of which is O. kori, from South Africa. It stands upwards of five feet high, and is the "wild peacock" of the Dutch settlers.