Little Bustard/Tetrax tetrax

Little Bustard/Tetrax tetrax - Photographer: Даниел Митев
Little Bustard/Tetrax tetrax - Photographer: Светослав Спасов
Little Bustard/Tetrax tetrax - Photographer: Светослав Спасов
Little Bustard/Tetrax tetrax - Photographer: Светослав Спасов

L 40-45 cm, WS 83-91 cm. Breeds in open, flat or undulating terrain with grass or cultivation, requiring vegetation tall enough to give cover. Display, apart from call, includes foot-stamping and sometimes wingflash with short leap in the air. Monogamous, or one a can have 2-3 females. Food mainly plant material and invertebrates.
IDENTIFICATION: Smallest bustard within the region, still roughly of female Pheasant size. Mainly because of size, flight differs from that of larger relatives and is more grouse-like, with noisy take-off, and quick, shallow wingbeats, interrupted by short glides on medium-long wings with rounded tips and somewhat arched primaries. Much white on wing, including secondaries, contrasting with black tips to outer primaries and primary coverts. - Adult male breeding: Striking pattern of head and neck, neck being black with two white collars; also, neck-feathers erected in display, making neck look inflated (even in flight!); head and throat lead-grey. Body darkmarked sandy-brown above, whitish below. Outermost 4th primary short and peculiarly emarginated to produce high-pitched whistling wing sound. - female and non-breeding male: Like breeding male but lacking black, white and grey pattern of head and neck, being sandy-brown with fine dark marks. Upperparts more heavily marked dark on female than on non-breeding male, latter looking paler at distance.
VOICE: Rather silent. Most frequently heard call is song of male, a slowly repeated (about every 10 sec.) dry snort, ‘prrt’, rather soft but still audible at 500 m. Also, male has whistling wingbeat sound. When flushed, female may utter a low staccato chuckle. Young have a fine, plaintive call, ‘cheeoo’, very similar to that of Great Bustard.

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