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Great Bustard   

 

 

 The Great Bustard has been extinct from the UK for 200 years.

The birds being reintroduced to the UK via an extensive breeding program are from Russia as they are the closet genetically.

The re-introduced birds have successfully bred this year (2010).

They are omnivorous, though they are usually seen eating vegetable matter.

They have no preen gland.  They produce a birds version of talcum powder instead.  Like real talcum powder, when its wet it coagulates and can render the birds flightless, which is why Henry VIII used to hunt them in the rain.

Flying takes a lot of effort and for a male requires a good run to get off the ground.  They prefer to run from danger and can even out run a fox.

The Great bustard male is about 3 feet tall and the wing span is similar to a swan.  They weigh about the same as a cocker spaniel.  The female is considerably smaller and lacks the large fanned tail and breeding whiskers of the male.

The males have an unusual grating call that is only heard in the breeding season.

They don't breed until the age of two and usually lay only 2 or 3 eggs in a shallow scrape in the ground.

Although released in Wiltshire it is not uncommon to find them in other areas, such as the Somerset levels. 

   

 why not visit the Great Bustard groups website at: http://www.greatbustard.org/

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