© Markus Lilje
© Volker Hesse
© Neil Paprocki
© Gerald Friesen

Red-crested Bustard Lophotis ruficrista

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A medium-sized, black-bellied bustard with diagnostic white chevrons on a brown-and-black mottled back. The male has a brown-gray neck and slaty cap, and the female is plainer. The name is misleading, as the red crest is almost always hidden. It walks slowly and steadily in arid woodlands, where it is common but due to its camouflage often avoids detection. The song is a sequence of clicking “tic-tic” notes that are followed by a mournful piping “sweee-swee-sweee sweet” series that accelerates to a crescendo. The male indulges in an absurd display in which he flies nearly vertically into the sky and then folds his wings and somersaults down as if shot, only to unbelievably land on his feet. In flight the Red-crested Bustard’s all-black underwings differentiate it from Black-bellied Bustard, which has white windows in the underwing.