State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Tetrax tetrax (Linnaeus, 1758)

  • Otis tetrax Linnaeus, 1758
Vernacular Name
Little Bustard
Conservation status
IUCN: NT; Be (II); EUBD (I); CITES (II); RDBUkr: Зникаючі
Value of species
This species has two widely separated breeding populations. In its eastern range it occurs in Russia (likely to have been previously underestimated at 9,000 displaying males as 14,000-17,000 individuals were reported in one region alone [Orenburg] in the last two years [A. Antonchikov in litt. 2012]), Georgia (60 non-breeding individuals [E. García in litt. 2007]), Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan (c.20,000 individuals and likely to be increasing [N. Petkov in litt. 2012] although this is thought to be an underestimate [J. Kamp in litt. 2015]), Ukraine (100-110 individuals [Y. Andryuschenko in litt. 1999]), north-west China, northern Iran and Turkey (5-50 breeding males [BirdLife International 2015]). Its western range covers Spain (71-147,000 individuals comprising 41,482-86,195 breeding males [García de la Morena, et al. 2006, BirdLife International 2015], down from 100,000-200,000 males in the 1990s [De Juana and Martínez 1996]) and Portugal (13,250-21,771 breeding males [BirdLife International 2015]), with smaller populations in Italy (352 breeding males [BirdLife International 2015]), France (1,350-2,350 displaying males [BirdLife International 2015]) and Morocco. Eastern populations winter from Turkey and the Caucasus to Iran (estimated 5,000-10,000 wintering birds [Sehhatisabet et al. 2012]), and erratically elsewhere in south Asia, with Azerbaijan holding the main wintering quarters (over 150,000 individuals in 2005-2006 [Gauger 2007, E. García in litt. 2007] and more than 100,000 in autumn 2011 [Heiss 2013]) and sightings in the winter of 2010 report 25,000 and 50,000-70,000 individuals in Adjinohur valley and Shirvan National Park respectively (Gauger and Heiß 2010). Western populations winter in the Mediterranean zone, with the Iberian peninsula holding the most important wintering quarters (a minimum of 16,429-35,929 and 11,200 individuals in Spain and Portugal, respectively) (E. García in litt. 2007). The global population (excluding Kazakhstan) was estimated at a minimum of c.240,000 individuals in the late 1990s (C. Martínez in litt. 1999) and the latest European assessment estimated 122,000-240,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Whilst it remains widespread and numerous, in some parts of its range it has declined dramatically since the 19th century, leading to extinctions in at least 11 European countries, Algeria, Tunisia and probably as a breeding bird in Azerbaijan. The species has now disappeared from mainland Italy, where it occurred in Apulia, and it is presently declining strongly in Spain (46% decline between 1998 and 2012 [BirdLife International 2015]). In Portugal, the population appears to be stable, and eastern populations are said to have increased in recent years (E. García in litt. 2007) although the most recent assessment for the European Red List of Birds did not provide a trend direction for the Portuguese population. The population in the Eurasian steppe belt is thought to have recovered due to an increase in fallow land during the transition process of the former Soviet Union (Gauger 2007). The global population (excluding c.20,000 individuals in Kazakhstan) was previously estimated at a minimum of c. 240,000 individuals (C. Martínez in litt. 1999). The European population alone was recently estimated to be 122,000-240,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). The eastern population is likely to be of a similar size to the Iberian population (J. Kamp in litt. 2015). The population is therefore placed in the band 100,000-499,999 individuals. Trend Justification: The European population is estimated to be declining by 30-49% in three generations (30.9 years) (BirdLife International 2015). There is little evidence to suggest that the population in Kazakhstan has declined and surveys in central and northern Kazakhstan show that densities did not decrease between 2008-2009 and 2015 (J. Kamp in litt. 2015). Wintering flocks in Azerbaijan are not thought to have declined (J. Kamp in litt. 2015). Given that Europe holds around 40% of the global breeding range, but may hold as much as 80-90% of the global population and the Central Asian population may be exposed to the same threats as the western European population (e.g. agricultural change [Kamp et al. 2011] and power lines [Voronova et al. 2012]), the overall population is estimated to be in moderately rapid decline. This species inhabits dry grassland and, in Europe, it also occurs in areas of low-intensity arable cultivation and pastoral land, selecting areas with a high diversity of ground cover such as mosaics of pasture, stubble fields, long-rotation fallow land (Morales et al. 2013) and legume crops. The species has been observed to form mixed-species flocks with Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata in Iberian regions and France (Martin et al. 2010). Wintering birds in Azerbaijan prefer semi-desert and steppe areas under winter pasturing, and avoid areas of intensive agriculture (Gauger 2007).
Book reference
  • Котенко Т.И., Ардамацкая Т.Б., Дубина Д.В. и др. Биоразнообразие Джарылгача: современное состояние и пути сохранения // Вісник зоології. – 2000. – Спец. випуск. – 240 с.
  • Проект організації території Чорноморського біосферного заповідника НАН України та охорони його природних комплексів. Ч. 1. К.- 2016. 300 с.

Taxonomic branch