Fun Houbara Bustard Facts For Kids

Martha Martins
May 03, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
Houbara bustard facts about the largest North African bustard species.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

What bird species belong to the Otididae family and is native to North Africa and Central Asia? If you can't think of it, do not worry.

The answer is the Houbara bustard. The subspecies native to North Africa is a sedentary bird, African Houbara, while the other subspecies native to Central Asia are migratory birds, Asian Houbara. Asian bustards usually migrate in winter in search of the best ecological conditions and habitats for breeding, feeding, and raising young birds.

The primary reason for the lower population size of the Houbara bustard subspecies, the Asian bustard bird, is the hunting events conducted in Pakistan, especially for royals and princes. It is essential to learn about this endangered species and appreciate the conservation efforts underway to protect it.

To know more facts about Houbara Bustard, continue reading. If you are excited to know about birds, you may consider looking into our articles on the kori bustard and the hooded pitohui.

Houbara Bustard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Houbara bustard?

A Houbara bustard is the largest terrestrial bird in the bustard family, Otididae.

What class of animal does a Houbara bustard belong to?

A Houbara bustard bird belongs to the Aves class.

How many Houbara bustards are there in the world?

The exact population data of Houbara bustards in the wild and captive is not available. It is mentioned that the International Fund for Houbara Conservation released more than 343,428 out of 484,351 captive-bred Houbara into the wild in 2019.

Where does a Houbara bustard live?

The International Union recognizes only two Houbara bustards for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The two species are The Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) and the MacQueen's bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii).

The Houbara bustard is native to North Africa and is known by the name African Houbara. In contrast, MacQueen's bustard is native to Central Asia and the Middle East and is known as Asian Houbara.

A small population of bustards is known to be available in the Canary Islands. The Asian Houbara is also seen in Pakistan as they migrate during winter.

What is a Houbara bustard's habitat?

The African Houbara bustards prefer arid habitats, while the Asian Houbara lives in deserts and grassland plains without trees (known as Steppe). These are also found in desert and semi-desert habitats with less scattered bushes.

Who do Houbara bustards live with?

There is no information available on the species with which the Houbara bustard cohabits. It is presumed that these birds move alone.

How long does a Houbara bustard live?

Significantly less information is available on the lifespan details of both African Houbara and Asian Houbara species. But as per a few anecdotal reports, the average lifespan of these birds is 10-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Like other bird species, the female Houbara bustards lay eggs, usually with a clutch size of two to four eggs. They incubate these eggs for an average of 23 days. The breeding season for these birds is from mid-February to mid-June.

What is their conservation status?

The African Houbara and Asian Houbara bustards are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The primary reason for the extinction of bustards is that Arab falcons and hunters with guns often hunt these species.

Houbara Bustard Fun Facts

What do Houbara bustards look like?

An African Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) is covered with brown feathers on the top and white on the bottom with black stripes on the side of the neck, while the females have a grayer top cover than the males. When in flight, the wings show large areas of brown and black on the flight feathers.

Asian bustards also have an appealing appearance similar to other bustards, but in flight, their wings show a white patch at the base, and the females have a paler top cover than the males.

The Asian bustards show a peculiar walking behavior, i.e. they raise the white feathers of the head and throat and withdraw the head while walking near a chosen lek site.

The North African bustard is a small to medium-sized bustard.

How cute are they?

The different shades of the feathers and white bottom cover of these birds give them an appealing look.

How do they communicate?

Houbara bustards communicate with the other bustards through acoustic signals known as booms which are low-frequency vocalizations that transmit up to 600 m. Mainly Houbara males are known to produce these booms when they compete for display at lek sites before the females start breeding.

How big is a Houbara bustard?

African bustards grow up to 22-26 in (55-65 cm) long with a wingspan of 53-67 in (134.6-170 cm). The African Houbara bustard is slightly smaller and looks darker than the Asian Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii).

The Asian bustard is a medium-sized bird that grows up to 26 in (65 cm) long with a wingspan of 55 in (139.7 cm). Usually, the male birds grow more extended than the females in both these species.

How fast can a Houbara bustard fly?

The exact flying speed of the Houbara bustard birds is not available. But it is mentioned that they fly at considerable speeds.

How much does a Houbara bustard weigh?

The weight range of males is 2.5-5.3 lb (1.15-2.4 kg), while for females, it is 2.2-3.7 lb (1-1.7 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The information on the gender-specific names for this species is not available. Generally, they are termed Houbara males and Houbara females.

What would you call a baby Houbara bustard?

There is no specific name for a baby Houbara bustard. We can call it a young Houbara.

What do they eat?

Houbara bustards are omnivores. They prey on both plant matter and animal matter. The preferred diet of the Houbara bustard includes seeds, fruits, leaves and flowers, shoots, locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, and mole crickets.

Are they dangerous?

These species are not aggressive, and there is no recorded evidence to prove that it attacks humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Because of the Houbara bustard habitat preference, we can assume that it cannot be domesticated in the human habitat.

But as part of the conservation efforts by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, breeding centers were established in United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco, and Kazakhstan to captive-breed Houbara and increase the wild population of Houbara in its natural habitat across the complete species range.

Did you know...

The Asian Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) is regarded as subspecies of the North African Houbara bustard till 2003. It was then recognized as distinct species because of the differences in courtship behavior, plumage, and vocalizations.

A conservation strategy was developed and implemented by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation to protect these species from extinction. This strategy adopts an integrated approach combining conservation breeding, protection measures in the wild, and effective reinforcement programs.

As part of this strategy, the breeding centers like The Sheik Khalifa Houbara Breeding Center and The National Avian Research Center in the UAE (United Arab Emirates), The Sheik Khalifa Houbara Breeding Center in Kazakhstan, and Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation in Morocco were established.

With funds from Saudi Prince, a significant conservation and breeding project, the International Foundation for Conservation and Development of Wildlife was established. These conservation centers breed bustard birds captive and release them to improve their population in the wild.

What is so significant about the Houbara bird?

Arab royals think that the meat of Asian bustards helps to improve sexual desires and promote diuresis. For this reason, the government of Pakistan arranges secretive hunting expeditions.

It offers special permits to royals from United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries to hunt these birds while Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt. The hunting period is usually between November to January, and the hunting area is spread across Balochistan, Punjab, and Sindh provinces.

In which season do Houbara bustards migrate to Pakistan?

The North African bustards are sedentary, unlike the migratory Asian bustards. After breeding during the spring, Asian bustards migrate from Central Asia towards the south to Pakistan and Southwest Asia to spend the winter. The main reason for the extinction of Asian bustards in the Middle East is unregulated hunting and poaching.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Golden-crowned sparrow facts and Red-crowned crane fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Houbara Bustard coloring pages.

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Oluwapelumi Iwayemi picture

Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

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