Endangered Houbara bustard bird making return

Nature authority: Presence of an extremely rare bird has increased by 10 percent in comparison to last year.

July 28, 2013 04:20
1 minute read.
The endangered Houbara bustard.

The endangered Houbara bustard bird 370. (photo credit: Assaf Moroz)

The presence of an extremely rare bird – the Houbara bustard – in Israel has increased by 10 percent in comparison to last year.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority counted 192 individuals on Friday in the Hatzerim area, west of Beersheba.

One of the largest, rarest and most impressive birds in Israel, the Houbara bustard tends to prefer a desert environment and many of its behaviors are still not completely known, the INPA said.

In 2001, there were only about 500 Houbaras in the country, nesting predominantly in the Negev and the Arava. Over the past decade their population decreased by 20 percent and therefore became critically endangered, the authority said.

“The Houbara serves us as a kind of indicator for loss of soil and desert shrubbery and is of course a flag-bearer for preserving these habitats,” the INPA said.

During the Houbara mating period, the male performs a unique “bridal dance,” during which he runs hundreds of meters while drumming his legs – raising his head backwards and inflating the plumes on his chest, making him appear like a ball of black and white feathers, the INPA said. Like cranes, which are distant relatives of the Houbara, this bird flaunts its beauty during mating season, and males define their territory of up to several kilometers wide.

When not in courtship period, the Houbaras are well camouflaged and are typically light brown in color. Only when they rise into the air and unveil their black and white wings are the birds easily visible during this time, the INPA said.

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