Social behaviour

Great bustards are the most social of the bustards. They are commonly found in small, loose flocks called droves, made up of birds of the same sex and age.

Display behaviour

Male great bustards are renowned for their spectacular mating display. They are normally well-camouflaged, so males display to advertise their presence and show off their quality to prospective mates.

During his display, a male:

  • inflates a special air sac in his neck into a huge balloon, revealing strips of bare skin either side of his neck
  • as he expands, he tilts forwards and pulls his head in so that the long whiskery chin feathers point upwards
  • he cocks his tail flat along his back, exposing the normally hidden bright white plumage
  • then he lowers his wings, with the primary flight feathers folded but with the white secondaries fanning out
  • once in full display, he may hold the pose for many minutes, occasionally shifting his feet and shaking his body to emphasise his spectacular appearance

Shining white against the landscape, a displaying male can be visible from several kilometres away.