Tag Archives: Lissotis melanogaster

Black-bellied Bustard

Lissotis melanogaster

The Black-bellied Bustard is an inhabitant of higher rainfall grassland, savanna and woodland habitats, usually with tall, dense grass cover in which it is fairly difficult to see and often near wetlands. Insects and other invertebrates make up the bulk of their diet, with a bit of berries, seeds and green leaves thrown in for variety. With a weight of up to 2.7kg the males are considerably bigger than the females, which averages around 1.4kg.

Black-bellied Bustards are usually seen singly or in temporary pairs, the latter mainly during the breeding season (which spans spring and summer) when males will attempt to mate with as many females as possible. Apart from an elaborate flying display the male also employs a most amusing two-step call with which it tries to impress the females, almost as if he has a burp stuck in his throat released with a load “pop”! The female lays a well camouflaged clutch of 1 or 2 eggs in a scrape on the bare ground, usually between tufts of grass, and is singly responsible for the incubation of the eggs and the care of the chicks.

The IUCN lists the Black-bellied Bustard as being of least concern, though it also notes that its populations are probably dropping due to habitat degradation. It is widely distributed in the savanna regions of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia and southwards to South Africa, where it occurs in Kwazulu-Natal and the Escarpment and Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.