Family Bustards (Otididae)

Near Threatened

Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)


French: Outarde canepetière German: Zwergtrappe Spanish: Sisón común

Otis Tetrax


, 1758,



DNA sequences suggest close phylogenetic relationship to the Little Brown Bustard (Heterotetrax humilis)#R. E birds have been awarded race orientalis on grounds of larger size and greyer, more heavily marked upperparts; but much individual variation and considerable overlap between populations. Monotypic.


Morocco and Iberia to France, Sardinia and SE Italy (possibly now extinct); Ukraine and SW Russia through Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and extreme NW China; extreme N Iran. Winters from Mediterranean zone through Turkey and Caucasus to Iran, and erratically elsewhere in S Asia.

Descriptive notes

Male 40–45 cm, 794–975 g; female 40–43 cm, 680–945 g; wingspan 105–115 cm. Breeding male has streaked brown crown, blue-grey face shading to... read more


Not very vocal. Both sexes have a grunting alarm call; in females this is sometimes extended in... read more


Steppe and steppe-like landscapes, level or undulating short-grass plains, rich pastureland, fallow... read more

Food and feeding

Beetles, grasshoppers and other terrestrial invertebrates; also much plant material such as shoots, leaves, flowerheads and seeds. Animals... read more


Feb–Jun. Nest is a shallow scrape usually in dense short-grass cover. Eggs 2–6; incubation 20–22 days; chick has buff... read more


Largely sedentary or dispersive in C & S Iberia, SE France (Crau), Sardinia and Italy; migratory in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. CITES II. Currently considered Near Threatened. The global population was estimated at more than 250,000 individuals in the late 1990s, much higher... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N., Garcia, E.F.J. & de Juana, E. (2020). Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax). 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 1 April 2020).