Australian Bustards aka Bush Turkeys

Australian Bustard, Ardeotis australis, is a large ground bird of grassland, woodland and open agricultural country across northern Australia and southern New Guinea.

It is also commonly referred to in Central Australia as the Bush Turkey, particularly by Aboriginal people.

This bird remains relatively common and widespread across most of northern Australia, but its range appears to have contracted in the south-east of the continent during the last century, perhaps due to hunting (now illegal except for indigenous Australians), feral predators such as pigs and foxes and habitat destruction. Its nomadic habits make it difficult to assess.


The male is up to 1.2m tall with a 2.3m wingspan. The female is a little smaller (0.8m) but similarly colored. The back, wings and tail are dull brown, with mottled black and white markings on the wing coverts. The neck and head appear dull white and the crown is black. Legs are yellow to cream colored.

When disturbed, Australian Bustards often adopt a cryptic pose with neck erect and bill pointed skywards.

They may stalk gradually away or run if alarmed, taking flight as a last resort.

Populations are highly nomadic following rain and feed, which includes seeds, fruit, centipedes, insects, mollusks, lizards, young birds and small rodents.

Australian Burstard
Photo of author

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