Upper part of the body reddish orange, with transverse black bars; beneath whitish: a tuft of long filiform feathers (male) from the corners of the lower mandible.
O. Tarda, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. II. p. 506. Great Bustard, Mont. Orn. Diet, and Supp. Selb. Illust. vol. I. p. 442. pls. 64, & 64*. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. I. p. 355.
Entire length nearly four feet: breadth nine feet. Penn.
(Male). Head and neck cinereous; a longitudinal black streak on the crown reaching to the occiput; feathers on the chin loose, and somewhat elongated, with the barbs disunited; a long moustache of similar feathers on each side of the lower mandible: * back, scapulars, lesser wing-coverts, rump, and tail-coverts, yellowish or reddish orange, barred and variegated with black; greater wing-coverts, and some of the secondaries, pale cinereous; primaries black, slightly tipped with white: upper part of the breast reddish orange; rest of the under parts white: tail brownish orange, some of the lateral feathers with the basal half and tip white; the whole crossed by two or three black bars near the extremity: bill dusky, the under mandible somewhat paler than the upper: irides light hazel: feet dusky brown. (Female). Much smaller, and without the tuft of long feathers on each side of the lower mandible; the longitudinal streak on the crown not so obvious; fore part of the neck of a deeper gray: in other respects similar to the male. (Egg). Olive-brown, sparingly and indistinctly blotched with greenish brocoli-brown: long. diam. two inches eleven lines; trans, diam. two inches two lines.
Formerly met with in great plenty on the plains of Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, the Wolds of Yorkshire, as well as in many other parts of England, and also in Scotland. Is now become extremely rare, and almost confined to the open parts of Norfolk and Suffolk, where the species still continues to breed in small quantities. Single individuals are occasionally observed in Cambridgeshire, and a fine male specimen was killed near Ickleton in that county in January 1831. Where plentiful, usually found in flocks. Food green corn, seeds, insects, as well as various other vegetable and animal substances. Lays two eggs early in the Spring, which are deposited on the bare ground: rarely, however, hatches more than one in this country. Period of incubation about four weeks. The male of this species possesses a capacious pouch, situate along the fore part of the neck, said to be capable of holding several quarts of water.