Night time bustard activity

Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Purple 5 displaying at night

Although great bustards are not a nocturnal species, they are certainly at their most active at dawn and dusk. We have always been interested in their level of activity during the hours of darkness, when we are not able to see them. 

Over the years we have had a few clues – bustards with satellite transmitters changing location between 6pm, midnight and 6am during the winter, and sightings of  bustards feeding by the light of the full moon. Obtaining camera traps with infra-red capability helped add to our knowledge, taking pictures such as this of Purple 5 displaying at night. These cameras have taken very few night time pictures of bustards in comparison to the number taken during the day, but the infra-red light only works at very close range. 

Recently we had a visit from a camera crew with much more advanced equipment, who were in one of our photographic hides from two hours before first light onwards, on a night without any moonlight. They located a group of bustards immediately, roosting very close to each other. The birds became active about 45 minutes before it was light enough for us to see, and immediately started feeding and displaying. They started moving when light levels were equivalent to that provided by about half a moon, so night time activity around the full moon could be expected. This is a great example of how advanced technology can help us learn more about the behaviour of the species.

Categories: Great Bustards, LIFE +, News

Andrew Taylor

Posted by Andrew Taylor

Andrew has worked for the RSPB in Wiltshire for three years, mainly as part of the Wessex Stone-curlew Project. In March 2011,he joined the LIFE+ team.

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