Heaviest bird in UK comeback

2010-06-11 08:15

London - The Great Bustard, extinct as a nesting bird in Britain since 1832, is making a comeback in the wild, six years after a trial group was introduced.

Four chicks have hatched this year on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, conservationists say.

In 2004, chicks reared in Russia were introduced as a trial group, with the first nest being found in 2007.

The first nests yielded no young but in 2009 the first chicks hatched in the wild.

"The encouraging signs that the return of the Great Bustard is edging closer is fantastic news," said RSPB Conservation Director, Dr Mark Avery.

Bustards take several years to mature enough to breed, five or six years in the case of males.

Professor Tamas Szekely of the University of Bath Biodiversity Lab said: "The Great Bustard is one of the most difficult birds ever to be reintroduced due to its sensitive nature, slow life history and complex social behaviour.

"I do believe Bustards will defy the odds, and will pull up a self-sustaining breeding population in the UK, if sufficient time and resources are devoted to assisting their promising initial attempts."

David Waters, director of the Great Bustard Group, said more chicks might yet be found.

"This year we are aware of four Great Bustard nests, and that so far four chicks have hatched," he said in a statement.

"In spite of their considerable size, nesting females are notoriously hard to find, and thus other females are suspected of nesting in addition to the four we are aware of.

"We very much hope these females will turn up with their youngsters later in the autumn, since the mother-offspring bond is especially strong and long-lasting.

"Since each mother has a tag, we will be able to tell which mothers were the 'super-nannies'."

  • moi - 2010-06-11 08:41

    Each of the four chicks represents a point in the struggle towards saving our planet. Well done Dr "Aviary".

  • Paul - 2010-06-11 10:19

    Wonder if it tastes like Turkey?

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