Houbara

General Information

Diversity

The Houbara bustard was previously considered as a single species with separate populations. However, studies revealed that the populations in Asia and North Africa were distinct species based on a hereditary, morphological and geographical and behavioral basis. In 2014 this distinction was officially recognised and the species taxonomy was changed on the IUCN Red List.

-The Asian Houbara (Chlamydotis macqueenii)

-The North African Houbara (Chlamydotis undulata)

 

Natural Environment

The Houbara lives in vast plains and semi-arid regions in pebbly sandy deserts with scattered vegetation cover.

Food

Houbara spends most of their time on the ground looking for food. Its food system is varied and includes; plants, insects, invertebrates, rodents and small vertebrates.

Due to its adaptation to the dry natural environment in which it lives, the Houbara can get the water it needs from the plants and it rarely needs to drink water. Mostly, Houbara bustards search for food at sunrise and dusk.

Eggs

The Houbara female digs a shallow hole in the open ground into which she puts on average 1 to 3 eggs. The eggs of the Houbara are spotted with brown shades to match the nests in the desert areas, which helps protect them from predators during the incubation period, which extends for three weeks.

Rearing

For the first few days after hatching, the chicks will be fed directly by the mother. Subsequently, the mother will begin to train her chicks on how to pick up food by throwing worms and insects in front of them on ground. When chicks are five days old, they become able to feed themselves from around the nest.

Within a month the growth of feathers allow the Houbara chicks to fly short distances, however they remain close to their mother for the first couple of months before they become juvenile and capable of surviving on their own.

Mating           

Each season male Houbara return to territory where they have previously been successful in attracting females. Once on these show sites, the male undertakes a complex and spectacular routine in an attempt to attract the females. It fluffs the feathers around its neck while pulling its head in fast movements to the back. Therefore, his head is almost hidden in a mass of white and black feathers. Following this, it rushes quickly to dance in a straight line or circular motion.

The Houbara female visits the show sites for mating then leaves to another area to lay her eggs. Houbara males do not play any role in the eggs incubation which lasts 23 days, nor contribute to raising, defending or caring for the young. His only function appears to be to mate with the female.

The Risks

The biggest threats to Houbara are; the decline of natural habitats due to urban encroachment, the expansion land used for agriculture, poaching and unregulated hunting.

 




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