New Publications on Great Bustards in Asia
We proudly present a paper
(.pdf) summarizing the historical and present status of Great Bustards in Central Asia, and the threats they face today.
Also: M. Kessler's doctoral dissertation
(.pdf) on the eastern subspecies of Great Bustard.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
History of Migration Research
A cute animated video
on the history of study of bird migration, and the techniques that are used. We've made our contribution
to this century-old field of research through our use of satellite-GPS telemetry. GPS provides more detailed data on the bird's location, allowing us to study the fine-scale habitat preferences of Great Bustards.
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'!
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!
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.
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!
Watch "Mongolian Myth Bustards!"
Check out the 5-minute video
collaborator V. Cox has put together to acquaint English-speaking audiences with our conservation research and outreach program. Watch our project team at work and see footage of bustards we monitor using satellite transmitters!
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.
Fall Migration Begins
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.
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
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.
The bustards we are monitoring have made it to the Bayanur oasis in Inner Mongolia - half-way from their wintering site in Chinato their breeding grounds in northern Mongolia
Bosoo Bustard Poached near Mining Site
, one of the bustards whome we monitor via satellite telemetry, died on her migration south towards her wintering grounds. An investigation revealed that she had been poached near a mining site
in south Gobi desert. Her transmitter was discarded not far from a road.