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Friday, July 6, 2018


Little Bustard
Photo from: Peter Beesley

OCast. seysón, sysón, susón,L. Tetrax tetrax, Eng. little bustard. These are medium size birds, about 40 cm long or 16” long. The top of the head is black with pale rusty spots, the sides of the head, throat and chin are reddish white with some dark spots. The male’s neck is black with a white collar. The back and wings are a red with brown spots and irregular little black lines. Underneath, the body is white as well as the outer edges of the wings. Eighteen feathers make up the tail. The two outer sides are white with irregular black bands, while those in the middle are tan. 

The female is smaller and has no collar. She lays three or four eggs in June. The chicks follow her around like those of hens until they start flying in mid-August. 

They are residents of Iberia, northern Morocco, central and southern France, Italy and Sardinia. In Spain, they are most frequently seen in Estremadura, the Sierra de Guadarrama (Madrid), the Coto Donana (Huelva), Daimiel National Park (Ciudad Real) and Moncayo in the Ebro River Valley (Zaragoza) where Francisco Goya, the painter, was born. As per Villena, they were abundant in Aragon during the 15 C.

In summer, some may visit northern areas such as England, Ireland, Scandinavia, the Baltic States and Poland. They prefer open areas like pastures, meadows, steppelands or cultivated fields where alfalfa, clover or cereal crops are grown. There they eat seeds, herbs and insects. They are very timid but crafty. When they sense danger, they will fly close to the ground about 100 yards and then run swiftly. 

Little bustards are faster on foot then men. As the great bustard, they are considered exquisite being tastier than chicken or peacock but as they are "near threatened species today, they not eaten. In Great Britian they were found in the moors of southern and eastern England, northern Wales and southern Scotland but became extinct along with beavers for man’s gluttony in those areas. Villena instructs that they should be carved in the same manner as the partridge. See avutarda, castor  and perdiz. 

[ES: Bewick. Nov 14, 00; ES: COMM/DGENV. Mar 5, 03; ES: “Little Bustard.” Nov 1, 2003; Black. 1998:11; and Villena/Calero. 2002:101:22a:28a]

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