Family Bustards (Otididae)

Critically Endangered

Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps)


French: Outarde à tête noire German: Hindutrappe Spanish: Avutarda india
Other common names: Indian Bustard

Otis nigriceps


, 1831,



Very closely related to A. australis (these two sometimes separated in genus Austrotis, having a very different display from the two African Ardeotis), but differs in its larger size (bill, wing and especially tarsus all have effect sizes >2) (2); all-black crown including eyebrow in male vs white eyebrow in australis (2); reduced white spotting on (consequently more obvious) black wingpanel (1); unbarred white neck of mature male producing a much brighter appearance vs narrowly dark-barred neck of mature male giving a distinctly grey overall appearance (2); flanks marked dark but not barred as in australis (ns[1]); dull brown undertail-coverts with brown-peppered white tips (all told, 30–50 mm) vs slightly blacker with longer (all told, 40–80 mm), whiter tips (ns[2]). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

SE Pakistan (Sind), and W & C India from Rajasthan S through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to N Karnataka and W Andhra Pradesh; all populations outside Rajasthan relict.

Descriptive notes

Male 100–122 cm, 8000–14,500 g; female 76–92 cm, 3500–6750 g. Often has extensive black crown; legs pale yellowish. Virtually identical to A.... read more


Booming moans during display (a single bellowing "hROOoom" lasting c. 4 seconds) which become... read more


Optimally occurs in rolling grassland with vegetation 30–70 cm high, with or without... read more

Food and feeding

Opportunistic, exploiting local and seasonal abundance. Grain, shoots and berries, with a particular liking for the drupes of Zizyphus... read more


Occurs throughout year, varying with area and rainfall, e.g. chiefly Mar–Jun in N of range, Aug–Oct in W Deccan, Aug–Jan... read more


Sedentary or seasonally nomadic, or may follow both strategies; generally dispersing, or at least... read more

Status and conservation

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. CITES I. In 19th century ranged from E Pakistan, in Sind and Punjab, E to W Bengal, and S to C Tamil Nadu; in recent times very rare in Pakistan. Total... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 5 December 2019).