Bustards are the heaviest flying bird in Australia and are also known as plains turkey and bush turkeys. Whilst they can fly, they are ground dwellers who live in grassland and woodland, preferring walking or running to flight. They are nomadic, following rain and food and enjoy eating seeds, fruits, small insects and lizards. If there is a plague of mice or grasshoppers, they will gorge themselves on the plentiful food supply.
They have a spectacular courtship display which include inflating throat sacs and elevating their elaborate feathered crests. Once they have mated, the female lays her eggs in nests of the ground, making them incredibly vulnerable to predators. An act of a more confident bird one might say…
Despite their size, they are nervous birds which are on high alert. At the first sign of danger they will move into cover or freeze in a flattened position. They may also strike a strange pose with their neck erect and their bill pointing up – a posture which makes them look as if they are being snooty, which says they are confident when really they are terrified. If they really have to, they will fly away. That said, their preference for open landscapes makes it harder for any predators or threats to approach. The adoption of a confident pose when faced with danger helps us to consider the importance of attitude when facing challenges but can also be a reminder that those people who seem to take everything in their stride, may not feel so calm inside.
Bustards are an important food source for Aboriginal people and their white feathers are used for ceremonial purposes.