Sunday, 1 March 2015

194. Great Bustard (Otis tarda)

Great Bustards are famously the world's heaviest flying birds, but their hefty proportions have meant they are a favoured target for hunters in some parts of the world, which has in part led to their classification as Vulnerable by the IUCN. They have also suffered habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. In the UK, they went extinct in the early 1800s, but have very recently been reintroduced on Salisbury Plain - exciting times! They are resident in various other parts of Europe, including the Iberian peninsula (a particular stronghold for the species), and bits of central and eastern Europe. Further east in their range, they are migratory, with populations breeding in parts of eastern Europe, southern Russia, central and east Asia, and wintering further south. They display marked sexual dimorphism, with males being much larger than females. The image below is of a male; females look similar but apart from the smaller size, are slimmer with less chestnut colouring at the base of the neck, and generally slightly duller colouring than males. The males perform spectacular displays in which they fluff out all their white feathers, shaking them around with their head withdrawn onto their back.Their preferred habitat is open plains e.g. grassland, steppe and cereal crops.

Great Bustard, ©Andrej Chudý, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Great Bustard painting.

Took quite a while over this, but still haven't really been able to do justice to the amazingly patterned plumage. I haven't got the neck chunky enough either! Yet again I've also gone off the edge of the page, when I get to the end of this (A5) sketchbook I'll try and get a square one again to prevent this happening so much! In my defence, the last time I went to buy a sketchbook they didn't have any square ones in.....


  1. hi Jane, your paintings are stunning!! And this Great Bustard is so alive ! :-) By the way, I read the blog link you posted on the World Girl Birders group, I was laughing at the " unnamed guy" :-D i just can't help it :-D

  2. Hi Irene, many thanks indeed for your kind words :o) I think my paintings are variable but practice is definitely helping me to improve! Haha I know, the 'unnamed guy' really didn't cover himself with glory did he! :oD