Otididae - Bustards
Bustards are birds of open steppe grassland. All are long-legged, long-necked birds with stout bodies and a short, but powerful bill. Living almost exclusively in dry habitats they have, uniquely amongst birds, lost their preen gland, which other birds use to provide oil for waterproofing their plumage. Ranging in size a small chicken to a large turkey, all have an alert walking gait and they will freeze, crouching when danger approaches relying on their camouflaged plumage to avoid detection.
The sole British breeding bustard, the Great Bustard , which as it name suggests, is the largest species, became extinct in the 19th Century, a victim of persecution and habitat loss. Various attempts have been made to re-introduce it, especially on to Salisbury Plain; though none have been successful so far, efforts are continuing and recently the first young birds have been raised.
Citizen Science in Shetland
BTO volunteer Hugh Tooby shares his journey through Shetland as part of the Upland Rovers scheme.