Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is a large and rare ground bird found in India and Pakistan. It is considered as one of the rarest bird in the region and the population declining day by day. It was considered to be a top gaming bird. The centuries of hunting just for flesh and game has brought the species population near to extinct.
The Great Indian Bustard is locally extinct from 90% of its former range. It is currently found in small pockets of India and Pakistan. Once widely spread across the Indian subcontinent in the grassy, the species has seen drastic fall in its population in last two decades. Now estimated as just around 300 in population, the experts are considering this species as critically endangered. The current stronghold of the species is Thar desert of western India and Deccan peninsula in South. A few of them are believed to be surviving Sind of Pakistan. It inhabits arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered low scrub, bushes and cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain. It normally shares its habitat with Black Buck, Chinkara, Nilgai, Red Fox, wild cats etc. They make local movements but these are not well understood although it is known that populations disperse after the monsoons. Males are said to be solitary during the breeding season but form small flocks in winter. Males may however distribute themselves close together. Recently the birds have abandoned a remote village of Karnataka, India for unknown reason. According to the wildlife enthusiasts they even abandoned their eggs!
The Great Indian Bustard is omnivorous, feeding on grass seeds, berries of Zizyphus, Eruca, insects (mainly orthoptera, but also beetles, particularly Mylabris sp.), rodents and reptiles. In cultivated areas, they feed on crops such as exposed groundnut, millets and pods of legumes. They drink water whenever available. The breeding season is from March to September during which time the inflated fluffy white feathers of the male are inflated and displayed. They are believed to use a mating system that has been termed as an exploded or dispersed lek. The males are polygamous. The female lays a single egg in an unlined scrape on the ground. Only the females are involved in incubation and care of the young.
The Great Indian Bustard has a black cap contrasting with the pale head and neck. The body is brownish with a black patch spotted in white. It stands at about a metre high(39 in) and is a large, brown and white bird, the male is about 122 cm (48 in) in length, its weight is 18–32 lb (8–14.5 kg) and the female 92 cm (36 in) in length, its weight is 7.8–15 lb (3.5–6.75 kg). The male is deep sandy buff coloured and during the breeding season has a black breast band. The crown of the head is black and crested and is puffed up by displaying males. In the female which is smaller than the male, the head and neck are not pure white and the breast band is either rudimentary, broken or absent. Hunting records mention birds weighing from 21 to nearly 40 pounds.
Tribal Bhils are claimed to have used a technique for trapping females that involves setting twigs on fire around the nest containing an egg or chick. The female was then said to run to the nest and singe its wings upon which the tribals captured it.