Magnet pictures vintage watercolor illustration of great bustards birds, The Great Bustards, by Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935). Thorburn, an Englishman, illustrated several important books about birds. His father was Queen Victoria's miniature portraitist.
The Great Bustards species (Otis tarda) is found in southern and central Europe and temperate areas of Asia with large populations in Hungary, Portugal, Russia and Spain. It suffered from extinction in some areas over the years and has been reintroduced to those areas. There are an estimated 31,000 to 37,000 birds today.
At 3.5 feet in length and with nearly an 8-foot wingspan, weighing up to 27 pounds, the male is considered one of the heaviest birds capable of flight. Females are substantially smaller. Great Bustards mate in March with a male mating with up to 5 females. Females lay 2-3 eggs in a small ground nest and incubate the eggs for 4 weeks. Chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching and stay within Mom's vicinity for the first year. Males begin mating at around 5 years of age. The average Great Bustard lifespan is 10 years. They walk slowly and are more apt to run than fly if disturbed.
The Great Bustard is the national bird of Hungary where it is called a túzok. In recent years Hungary has been trying to rebuild its Great Bustard population from a few thousand to the population of around 10,000 that existed prior to WWII.