With a maximum weight of 46 lbs (21 kg), the Great Bustard is one of the world's heaviest flying birds. Its preferred habitat in Central Asia is farmed fields close to human settlements. Yet due to the Great Bustard's wary nature, people living adjacent to these captivating birds are often unaware of their existence.

The range of this magnificent species once stretched across the steppes of Eurasia from Manchuria to Portugal. Now the Great Bustard is endangered or extinct across much of that area.

Our project, begun in 2006, is the largest research and outreach effort on Central Asian Great Bustards thus far. We are expanding scientific knowledge of poorly understood populations of the Great Bustard in remote Central Asia with an emphasis on gathering information with concrete conservation implications. We engage local people in the research process and promote awareness of the species in local communities, especially through programs focused on schoolchildren.

Tagged Bustards Die on Migratory Pathway

We are sad to report that tagged bustards Sachokchin and Mendee died on the migratory pathway. Mendee, whom we tagged in 2011, died in Inner Mongolia in China. Sachokchin, whom we tagged in 2010, died in Omnogovi Aimag of Southern Mongolia. We investigate the site of last transmission of all of our tagged bustards in order to study causes of adult mortality in Asian Great Bustards. All deaths of tagged bustards we have recorded have occurred on migratory stopovers or the wintering grounds. May 2015


Countries Commit to Greater Protection for Great Bustards!

Signatory countries of the Convention on Migratory Species unanimously voted to increase the level of protection afforded to Great Bustard populations worldwide! The Conference of Parties approved the proposal developed by our team and advanced by Mongolian CMS Focal Point D. Batbold. Read our statements of support. November 2014


Bustards on the move

Our tagged female bustards Sachokchin and Mendee have begun their journey south as the harsh Mongolian winter begins. Snow first fell in September! October 2014


Upcoming Vote at CMS Conference of Parties

The proposal developed by our team to increase protection for Great Bustards under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) will be voted on by signatories to the Convention at the November Conference of Parties in Quito. We need unanimous support! September 2014


Sachokchin incubating a second clutch

Through satellite telemetry, we have observed that after just a week's rest, Sachokchin laid a second clutch of eggs! She has now incubated them to term. Bustard chicks are precocial - they are able to walk alongside their mother (albeit slowly and with a bit of stumbling, as in this video from Britain!) shortly after hatching. We hope that Sachokchin's chicks will soon be accompanying her to forage on grasshoppers and beetles (agricultural pests!) in the wheat field in which they were hatched. July 2014


Presentations at SCB-Asia

Our team will make two symposium presentations at the Society for Conservation Biology - Asia conference this August. The first presentation, "Mongolia or Bustard!" will highlight our findings on the migratory habits of Asian Great Bustards. In the second presentation, "Steppe by Steppe," we will discuss our perspectives on the importance of community engagement and long-term research for the conservation of both Great Bustards and Taimen. Colleagues attending the meeting are invited to stop by our presentations, and get in touch! August 2014


Sachokchin and Mendee lose their clutches

Sachokchin and Mendee, two of the female great bustards we're monitoring with satellite transmitter backpacks, are trying their best to raise a family at their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia. Satellite transmissions reveal that both birds incubated nests for about two weeks in early June - only to abandon them. This often happens when the nest is predated (by crows or foxes), or eggs are crushed by livestock or farm machinery. June 2014


Developing Careers of Bustard Team Members

All three master's students who have worked with our team are now employed in positions where their experience with bustards is relevant and influential! Dashnyam is working in the Environmental Department of Oyu Tolgoi, while Natsag and Tuvshin are working in National Protected Areas offices. June 2014


Proposal to Conserve Great Bustards Is "Key"

The proposal to increase protection for Great Bustards under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)has been listed as one of the "Key" proposals for consideration at the upcoming CMS Conference of Parties. The proposal has also been endorsed by the IUCN Bustard Species Specialist Group. June 2014


Proposal to Convention on Migratory Species

A proposal advanced by our team, urging greater protection for global populations of Great Bustard, has been submitted by the Government of Mongolia to the Convention on Migratory Species! It will be voted on by the 120 Parties to the Convention in November. Read the text of the proposal here. June 2014


Sachokchin and Mendee return to breeding grounds

Sachokchin, a Great Bustard tagged by our team in 2010, and Mendee, tagged in 2011, have successfully completed round-trip migrations to return to their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia! This is cause for celebration, as our research has found particularly high mortality for Asian Great Bustards during migration, when they face threats as diverse as hunting, collisions with power lines, and poisoning. May 2014


Share Your photographs and Observations!

Have you observed Great Bustards while working or vacationing in Asia? Your sightings and photographs can help to improve our understanding of populations of Great Bustards in these areas. and let us know about your sighting!



Notes from Previous Field Seasons: