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.

Research paper selected as "Editor's Choice"

Our team's article on the migratory routes of Mongolian Great Bustards was recognized for outstanding merit by the editor of the Journal of Avian Biology. Download it, or contact us for a copy, to learn more about the migratory routes of Nergui, Ulaana and Songuul'! August 2013

 

Master's student carries out second field season

Thanks to your support of our RocketHub campaign, our team's second master's student G. Natsag has traveled to the field to undertake research on bustard breeding behavior for his master's thesis. RocketHub funds are also being used to support genetic research and satellite transmission of data from Great Bustards harnessed with GPS units. June 2013

 

Nergui, Sachokchin, and Mendee Safely home!

We've been monitoring the movements of our tagged bustards with baited breath as they've migrated 2000 km (1200 miles) homeward from their wintering grounds in China. As we've posted before, we are finding that mortality on the migratory route - due in large part to hunting - is a problem for these populations of Great Bustard. We are happy to report that this spring our tagged birds have all arrived safely home to northern Mongolia, where we wish them success in nesting and raising chicks this summer! May 2013

 

Participation in Great Bustard Conservation Meeting

A. Kessler presented our group's findings on the conservation status and threats to Central Asian populations of Great Bustard at the recent scientific and diplomatic meeting on Conservation and Management of Middle-European Populations of Great Bustards. The group agreed to propose stronger protection across the range of the Great Bustard at the upcoming Convention on Migratory Species Conference of the Parties. April 2013

 

Research published in Journal of Avian Biology

Our team's satellite telemetry research has revealed that Mongolian Great Bustards make long-distance migrations, twice as far as has been identified in any other population of Great Bustard. We are happy to announce the publication of that finding in the scientific journal, Journal of Avian Biology. Contact us if you are interested in obtaining a copy of the publication. March 2013

 

Nergui Begins Spring Migration

Our team's longest-tagged bustard, Nergui, has begun her northward, spring migration from her wintering grounds in Shaanxi Province, China! March 2013

 

Баярлалаа найзуудаа! (Thank you, Friends!)

Our team is grateful for the incredible generosity shown by our supporters during our recent RocketHub fundraising appeal! With your help, we've raised funds to (1) support our Mongolian master's student's tuition; (2) pay for six additional months of satellite data transmission fees from our tagged bustards, and (3) continue conservation genetic research!

 

If you missed the RocketHub campaign, you still have a chance to participate (and adopt a bustard!) by donating via our PayPal link. We will continue to honor rewards levels outlined on the RocketHub page, so that you can receive mementos of the project! Every contribution, big or small, makes an impact for our team! January 2013

 

Campaign Video Online!

Be sure to check out our video, "Mongolian Myth Bustards!" by collaborator V. Cox to see footage of these incredible birds, the beautiful Mongolian countryside, and to virtually "meet" our team! March 2013

 

Awards Have been Shipped!

A note to donors from our recent fundraiser - we have shipped all thank you gifts as of early March. If you haven't received your reward, . March 2013

 

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!

 

Speedy Migrator!

Sachokchin has arrived at her wintering site in Shaanxi Province of China, after a journey lasting less than a week! Through our satellite tracking program, we have found that this journey is usually accomplished over a two-month timeframe, with multiple stopovers. Mendee, in the meantime, is on stopover at the Bayanur Oasis in Inner Mongolia, China. November 2012

 

Fall Migration Begins

Mendee is the first of the bustards we monitor to make a southward movement this fall - she's moved about 100 km southeast from her main breeding valley. October 2012

 

Spreading News of Bustards

We've continued to spread news about our research findings through academic presentations at the Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife Management and Society for Conservation Biology meetings as well as presentations for public groups including Audubon and P.E.O. Listen to audio from SCB here. October 2012

 

Public outrage over poaching of migratory birds

Last April, we reported our finding that one of our tracked bustards, Songuul', had been poisoned as part of the trade in illegal wild meats in China. We are happy to learn that the issue of poaching of migratory birds in China, which affects many species, is receiving attention, and has even been the subject of a documentary. October 2012

 

What our Bustards Did This Summer

Each of our tagged female bustards spent the summer in her own way. Mendee spent her summer months extensively exploring mountainous areas and clearings adjacent to her main breeding valley. Sachokchin incubated a clutch of eggs, but appears to have lost her chicks shortly after hatching. And after losing a clutch of eggs, Nergui went to the mountains for a period as well. Low rates of reproduction due to loss of eggs and chicks to predators (crows, foxes and wolves) and crushing by livestock and agricultural machinery is a major cause for concern across the Great Bustard's range. August 2012

 

Half-way home

The bustards we are monitoring have made it to the Bayanur oasis in Inner Mongolia - half-way from their wintering site in China to their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia April 2012

 


[+/-]

Notes from Previous Field Seasons: