Info: LIFE+ Project “Great Bustard“ from 2010 to 2015
The main aim of the LIFE+ Project is the continuation of the successful concept of the LIFE Project “Great Bustard“ in Austria until 2015 in all of the four important Great Bustard areas in Austria.
As in two project areas the main mortality factor and therefore the main population threat have widely been removed (transfer of power lines below the soil and marking of power lines, respectively), further necessary transfer of power lines below the soil and marking should take place, particularly in the project area Sandboden and Praterterrasse. This should contribute to a further long-term increase of the Austrian and the whole cross-border West-Pannonian Great Bustard population, respectively.
Furthermore on the basis of bustard protection the unique value of the cultural landscape and the need for integrated nature conservation in the framework of Natura 2000 und LIFE should be continued to be communicated to the public.
The Great Bustard (Otis tarda) is one of the heaviest birds that is able to fly. It is a globally threatened species occurring in Austria. The global population totals approximately 50,000 individuals, with about 2,400 living in central Europe.
It is surely one of nature's most impressive spectacles when in April and May the male Great Bustards (which can weigh more than 16 kg) perform their unique mating rituals. In Austria this can be observed only in a very few places in the east of the country. During the mating season, Great Bustard males can be seen walking "proudly" across open grassland or agricultural "steppes". During display, the male turns around his plumage in a matter of seconds in such a way that the white undercoverts and the white undersides of primary and secondary flight feathers face upwards. At the height of display, the underside of the tail - twisted forward and fanned out - forms the highest point, and the bird turns into an almost entirely white "heap of feathers". In this way, males become visible from afar and attract females over large distances.
But please do not disturb! Great Bustards are watchful and easily disturbed. When sensing an approaching danger they may fly off at distances well above 1 km. This applies equally to displaying and breeding birds and females with young.
Great Bustards can take to the air from the spot with powerful wing beats. While they are tireless fliers and can cover distances of more than 200 km per day, their manoeuvrability is limited by their great weight and large wingspan. In central Europe, Great Bustards are partial migrants, which can migrate over several hundred kilometers in harsh winters. Migration exposes them to great dangers - for example collision with power lines.
Ensuring the future survival of the globally threatened Great Bustard in central Europe including Austria - that is the aim of extensive conservation projects currently being implemented in several European countries with financial support from the European Union.
You can find all relevant information about Great Bustards and the ongoing conservation efforts on these pages, which are supplemented and updated regularly.