The Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) is an amazing large ground dwelling bird, with a slight crest, white eye-brow, speckled neck with dark markings and black crown. The wings have bold black and white markings. It stands at about a metre in height, with a wingspan that is approximately twice the height. The female is slightly smaller then the male. Their newly hatched chicks are striped dark and light in colour.

The Bustard has what appears to be a ‘snooty’ appearance, as it walks in a sedate manner, holding its head up high. If disturbed it will walk away, whilst still watching, although it can fly when needed.

During their breeding season the Australian Bustard males inflate a large throat sac, that produce a loud, deep roaring noise, whilst they strut around with their tails cocked high. They are known only to breed once a year.

The female lays a large, olive-green egg on bare ground or in grass, usually where the parent bird has a good view of any approaching predators. The female keeps a low profile, being well camouflaged, whilst she incubates and cares for the young.

A nomadic bird, it can also be found in small groups. They fly to areas where food is plentiful, being capable of travelling long distances. They are omnivorous and will eat almost anything. They are known to eat locust, mice and even whole cane toads without any apparent effects.

They were once widespread across much of mainland Australia, in open habitats. They are now increasingly rare or extinct in the south, especially in regions that are populated, but are still seen in the northern parts of Australia. They are found mainly in grassland, open savannah woodland, flood plains and open agricultural regions across the northern parts of Australia and southern New Guinea.

  • Common name:
    • Also called the Plains Turkey, Wild Turkey and Bush Turkey. The Brush Turkey is a name applied to another species known alternatively as the Brush-turkey.

Photos © Dorothy L

Following are some video of the male Australian Bustard mating call:

There are more images of the Australian Bustard on our Alice Springs Desert Park section:

Images © Greg Sully / Images © Ausemade PL


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Otidiformes
  • Family: Otididae
  • Genus: Ardeotis
  • Species: A. australis
  • Binomial name: Ardeotis australis