Nature conservation

Threatened species

Australian Bustard - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Ardeotis australis
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


The Australian Bustard is a very large, heavy-bodied, ground-dwelling bird up to one m tall. The larger male has a wingspan of up to 2.3 m. It has a stately, erect posture, prominent black cap, and long legs. The head, neck and breast are white, with dark grey specks. The upper surface of the wings and tail are brown with fine dark patterns. There is a bold black and white patch on the lower edge of the wing.


The Australian Bustard mainly occurs in inland Australia and is now scarce or absent from southern and south-eastern Australia. In NSW, they are mainly found in the north-west corner and less often recorded in the lower western and central west plains regions. Occasional vagrants are still seen as far east as the western slopes and Riverine plain. Breeding now only occurs in the north-west region of NSW.

Habitat and ecology

  • Mainly inhabits tussock and hummock grasslands, though prefers tussock grasses to hummock grasses; also occurs in low shrublands and low open grassy woodlands; occasionally seen in pastoral and cropping country, golf courses and near dams.
  • Breeds on bare ground on low sandy ridges or stony rises in ecotones between grassland and protective shrubland cover; roosts on ground among shrubs and long grasses or under trees.
  • Forages on insects, young birds, lizards, mice, leaves, seeds and fruit.
  • Dispersive, with irregular widespread movements over long distances; movements are thought to be in response to habitat and climatic conditions; known to converge on areas with high mice numbers and in recently burnt areas.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthMoonie-Barwon Interfluve Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNarrandool Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Known None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Outwash Known None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexScopes Range Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Known None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Predicted None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Known None
Channel CountryCore Ranges Known None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Known None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainBoorindal Plains Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCulgoa-Bokhara Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsLouth Plains Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsWarrambool-Moonie Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWilcannia Plains Known None
Mulga LandsCuttaburra-Paroo Predicted None
Mulga LandsKerribree Basin Predicted None
Mulga LandsNebine Plains Known None
Mulga LandsParoo Overflow Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo-Darling Sands Known None
Mulga LandsUrisino Sandplains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Plains Known None
Mulga LandsWarrego Sands Known None
Mulga LandsWest Warrego Known None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Known None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
RiverinaLachlan Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurray Scroll Belt Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
Simpson Strzelecki DunefieldsStrzelecki Desert Known None