1412. Otis tarda.
The Great Bustard.
Otis tarda, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 264 (1766); Hume, Ibis, 1871, p. 404: id. S. I. vii, p. 434; Hume & Marsh. Game-B. i, p. 1, pl. ; Hume, Cat. no. 836 bis ; Sharpe, Tr. Linn. Soc. (2) v, pt. 3, p. 87; id. Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 284.
Coloration. Male. Head and upper neck light ashy grey, chin and long bristly feathers on each side of the throat white; the grey passes all round the base of the neck into dull rufous with a few black spots, which forms a band across the upper breast; back, scapulars, tertiaries, and smaller wing-coverts rufous-buff, Closely and broadly but rather irregularly barred across with black ; lower back and rump deeper rufous with fewer bars ; median and greater wing-coverts greyish white; primaries dark brown; secondaries greyish white, with black tips that diminish gradually on the inner quills ; middle tail-feathers deep rufous like the rump with rather distant black cross-bars, outermost feathers greyish white with a subterminal black band, the other rectrices intermediate in Coloration between the middle and outer pairs: lower parts from breast white.
In females and young males the grey of the fore neck comes down to the upper breast, and there is no rufous gorget; otherwise the sexes are similar in plumage. The whiskers are wanting in females, and the size is smaller.
Bill dull lead-grey, blackish at the tip ; irides dark brown ; legs dirty earth-grey (Dresser).
Length of male about 42 inches ; tail 11 ; wing 24 ; tarsus 6.5 ; bill from gape 3.25: of a female, length 33 inches ; tail 10 ; wing 19 ; tarsus 5 ; bill from gape 2.6. Large males have been shot weighing as much as 30 pounds, but they take several years to attain their full growth.
Distribution. Southern and Central Europe and Northern Africa, with Central Asia as far east as China. A single specimen in the Hume Collection (now in the British Museum) was obtained near Mardan, in the extreme north-west of the Punjab, Dec. 23, 1870. The individual secured, a female, was one of a party of five or six in a field of mustard.