|General range: Sahelian Acacia savanna|
The Nubian Bustard (Neotis nuba) is a species of bird in the bustard family. This is a medium-large bustard found in the sparsely vegetated interface between the southern margins of the Sahara desert and the northern part of the Sahel. It is found in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan. Its natural habitats are dry savanna and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland.
In this species, males average around 5–7 kg (11–15 lb) and measure around 80 cm (31 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) in wingspan. Females are much smaller at around 3 kg (6.6 lb) and 60 cm (24 in) in length and 150 cm (59 in) across the wings. In males the forehead, crown and upperparts are tawny-buff marked with black. A broad black band extends over the eyes. The rest of the face is white except for the chin and throat which are black. The upperparts are pale tawny buff, lightly vermiculated with black. Tail is similar but more grey. The lower hindneck and sides of breast are bordered by a black line. In adult females plumage is similar but colors generally less intense and mantle faintly streaked. It is smaller than the sympatric Arabian Bustard, as well as more rufous with a different body shape. Compared to larger bustards the Nubian has a more rounder body, a relatively long, thin neck and a rounded head.
Observation of breeding has occurred from July to October have been reported across the species’ range. Males undertake elaborate displays on selected high points or dune ridges during the breeding season. Displays can entail throwing out the breast, pulling the head back, raising the tail and lowering the wings to display a contrasting white and dark pattern, while strutting repeatedly back and forth along the skyline. The clutch size is 2-3 eggs, which are laid in a simple scrape on the ground under or near low shrubs or tussocks of grass. Adult birds will engage in active diversionary tactics to draw would be predators away from eggs and chicks. Immature birds may be ‘parked’ whilst adults forage for food. Mixed groups of adult and immature birds, up to a dozen or more in number, have been observed following the breeding season.
This bird is believed mainly feed on insects but seeds, fruit and Acacia tree gum may supplement the diet. The main predator of this species are eagles such as the Golden Eagle or the Short-toed Snake Eagle. Young birds and eggs are threatened by a wider range of predators, including mammalian carnivores and reptiles.
Classified as Near-Threatened by the IUCN, its main threat is habitat loss. The species population may additionally be negatively affected from widespread hunting (mostly related to falconry activities), civil wars, intensification of land use, disturbance by off-road vehicles, overgrazing, disturbance by livestock, firewood collection and commercial wood collection all of which may now be causing substantial declines in parts of its range.
- BirdLife International (2013). "Neotis nuba". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Beaman & Madge, The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic. Princeton University Press (1998), ISBN 978-0-691-02726-5
- "Nubian Bustard". Wildlife Profiles. Sahara Conservation Fund. 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011.