Stanley’s bustard -- 黑冠鸨 (Neotis denhami)

Stanley's bustard
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Stanley’s bustard fact file

Stanley’s bustard description

GenusNeotis (1)

Bustards are large, long-legged birds that resemble giant chickens (4), and are related to the cranes and rails of the world (5). Stanley’s bustard has dull brown plumage on the back, finely streaked with black, and the underparts are white. Its grey crown is bordered with black, and a black line runs through the eye with a white line forming an ‘eyebrow’ above. The long legs are yellow and its slender bill is a whitish horn colour (2) (4).

Also known as
Burchell’s bustard, Denham’s bustard.
Outarde de Denham.
Male length: 100 cm (2)
Female length: 80 cm (2)
Male weight: 9 – 10 kg (2)
Female weight: 3 kg (2)

Stanley’s bustard biology

The Stanley’s bustard feeds on an enormous variety of foods including insects, small snakes, rodents, bird nestlings and plants (2) (4), and has been observed pecking at the dung of grazing mammals for beetles. While Stanley’s bustards are often solitary, they will gather in flocks in areas where food is abundant and during migration (4); with migratory movements being largely dictated by the passage of the rains (2) (4).

Like other bustards, the male of this species performs a courtship display by fluffing out his white breast feathers to make itself appear larger, while strutting about, calling loudly (4) (5). Breeding occurs at different times of the year in different areas, possibly reflecting rainfall patterns. The nest of the Stanley’s bustard is a shallow scrape on bare ground, often among grass, into which they lay one to two eggs at a time (2).


Stanley’s bustard range

There are three subspecies of Stanley’s bustard, all separated in their distribution. Neotis denhami denhami occurs in south-west Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia, east to Uganda and Ethiopia. N. d. jacksoni is found in Kenya and Tanzania, south to Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, with populations also in Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo. N. d. stanleyi occurs in South Africa and Swaziland (2).


Stanley’s bustard habitat

Stanley’s bustards inhabit grassland up to altitudes of 3,000 metres, including dense shrubland, light woodland, farmland, dried marsh and arid plains (2).


Stanley’s bustard status

Stanley's bustard is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Stanley’s bustard threats

Stanley’s bustards are still common in some areas but in others, such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, they have undergone declines. This is largely the result of widespread hunting and trapping and the loss of habitat as humans alter it for their own uses, particularly agriculture (2) (6). The conversion of grassland into forest by planting trees for commercial uses also poses a threat to the survival of Stanley’s bustards in some areas (7)


Stanley’s bustard conservation

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists the Stanley’s bustard on Appendix II meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). Stanley’s bustards also occur in a number of protected areas throughout their range including Baviaanskloof Protected Area in South Africa (8) (9), part of the Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site (10).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on Stanley’s bustard see:



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A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2007)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (December, 2007)
  4. Alden, P.C., Estes, R.D., Schlitter, D. and McBride, B. (1996) Collins Guide to African Wildlife. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
  5. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  6. BirdLife International (December, 2007)
  7. Moreira, F. (2004) Distribution patterns and conservation status of four bustard species (Family Otididae) in a montane grassland of South Africa. Biological Conservation, 118(1): 91 - 100.
  8. BirdLife IBA Factsheet (December, 2007)
  9. UNEP-WCMC: World Heritage Sites (December, 2007)
  10. UNESCO World Heritage (December, 2007)

Image credit

Stanley's bustard  
Stanley's bustard

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