Have you seen a Great Bustard? We’d like to know!
If you think you’ve spotted a Great Bustard, please don’t approach the birds and flush them. Besides causing undue stress, it takes a tremendous amount of effort for a Great Bustard to fly and use valuable energy.
If you believe you saw a Great Bustard, we’d love to hear about it!
Please email us with as much detail as possible about the sighting, the situation, time and date. If possible, please provide us with a grid reference, wing tag colour and number (if you could see it) and habitat. Go into as much detail as you can.
Don’t forget to include your full name and contact details too. Your sighting will be fully credited, and if you do see a wing tag, we will be able to tell you about the history of the bird you saw. Also, if you have a photograph that you would like to send, please let us know, and we’ll be in touch.
Not sure if it was a Great Bustard?
We know how exciting it is to spot a Great Bustard. However, if you’re unsure if the bird you saw was a Great Bustard, answer the questions below:
Did your bird have a tag?
Most released Great Bustards have coloured wing tags with identification numbers.
Was the bird you saw bold or shy?
Great Bustards are rarely seen up-close. They’re very shy and wary in nature and will often withdraw into tall vegetation, but never into bushes or trees. They’re normally seen in open ground such as large fields or parkland, never in gardens or near human habitation and roads.
How big was your bird?
The Great Bustard’s body is large and robust, with brown and black plumage on the back. Underneath, their feathers are white, and they have very long legs. A Bustard’s neck is long and light grey. Fully grown, a Great Bustard stands up to 1 m (3 ft) tall. Their tails are often cocked (as you can see in the GBG logo).
Was it in a tree or on the ground?
Bustards cannot perch, so you only ever see them on the ground.
Was your bird in flight?
Bustards are rarely seen flying. They’re regular and uninterrupted when flying, and they never glide. Their wings beat slowly and majestically, but progress is rapid. A Bustard’s wings are long and deeply ‘fingered’, appearing primarily white.
Did your bird make a noise?
Bustards are silent unless they’re accidentally flushed at very close range. If they do make a noise, it’ll sound like a nasal bark.
Other birds you could confuse a Great Bustard for include:
Body shape is similar, but Bustards are bigger with considerably longer legs and a straighter neck.
Bustards are much larger and taller than pheasants, with longer (grey) necks and legs. They also lack a long tail.