Bustards & Foxes

Subject: Bustards & Foxes
From: "Matthew Herring" <>
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 16:11:38 +1000

G'day Steve and others,

Great to read of such an excellent Australian Bustard sighting (6) so far south in Victoria. The dramatic loss of native grasslands has certainly taken its toll but I think foxes could be playing a major role in limiting bustard distribution, especially for breeding. Incubating females, which are often quite small birds (< 3 kg) compared to males (up to 14 kg), are probably vulnerable to fox predation, just not to the same degree as unfledged and recently fledged young. In Brolgas, only rarely are fledged young and adults lost to foxes but it does happen. Adult Black Swans are often lost to foxes, and I know of at least one pelican taken by a fox. Nonetheless, most Brolga chicks are lost in the first two weeks after hatching when they are quite small (< 1 kg). 

A friend of a friend lives between Willcania and Wanaaring in north-western NSW and did observe (about 18 months ago) at least one female Bustard on an active nest. Interestingly, the site was in a Canegrass (Eragrostis australasica) swamp surrounded by fairly deep water. Maybe bustards are also selecting nest sites where ground predators can be avoided???

Matt Herring, Albury NSW.    

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