Great Bustard

Otis tarda (Linnaeus, 1758) US GREBU 4460
Family: Otidiformes > Otididae

Great Bustard, Chris Knights

Once a regular breeder, the Great Bustard declined to become an extremely rare visitor. Attempts to re-establish a population on Salisbury Plain were initiated in 2004.

Despite the association of this bird with farming, the disappearance of this striking species – which requires large open landscapes – coincided with the enclosure of fields with hedgerows. The last wild breeding individual was collected in 1832 in Suffolk.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Great Bustard

  • Breeding
  • Winter
Re-introduced Breeder, Accidental


653 records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
653 records



Great Bustard identification is usually straightforward.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The Great Bustard bred in England from the late fifteenth to the early nineteenth century, but became extinct as a British breeding bird in 1832 (Waters & Waters 2005; Shrubb 2011). A reintroduction programme on Salisbury Plain began in 2004 and successful nesting first occurred in 2009 (Burnside et al. 2011). The project is ongoing and breeding numbers have increased slowly with 12 nesting females in 2019; a minimum of five of these nests were successful with at least ten young fledging (Eaton et al. 2021).


Since 2004 Great Bustards have been reintroduced to Salisbury Plain, with breeding first confirmed in 2009.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Great Bustard, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Coileach-Frangach
Welsh: Ceiliog y Waun
Catalan: pioc salvatge eurasiàtic
Czech: drop velký
Danish: Stortrappe
Dutch: Grote Trap
Estonian: suurtrapp
Finnish: isotrappi
French: Grande Outarde
German: Großtrappe
Hungarian: túzok
Icelandic: Trölldoðra
Irish: Bustard Mór
Italian: Otarda
Latvian: liela siga
Lithuanian: tikrasis einis
Norwegian: Stortrappe
Polish: drop (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: abetarda
Slovak: drop velký
Slovenian: velika droplja
Spanish: Avutarda euroasiática
Swedish: stortrapp


Interpretation and scientific publications about Great Bustard from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

All recent breeding attempts have resulted from the ongoing reintroduction programme on Salisbury Plain (Burnside et al. 2011). Although breeding numbers have been increasing slowly it remains too early to confirm whether this programme will be successful and will enable a self-sustaining population to survive in the longer term.

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