Scientific Name: Chlamydotis macqueenii
Arabic name: حبارى آسيوي
IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I
Houbara bustards are large-bodied birds with long legs and a slender neck. The birds inhabit wide open landscapes from Northeast Asia and the Mongolian steppe, through Central Asia and the Middle East to North Africa and the arid Sinai desert.
Based on genetics, morphologic, geographic and behavioural criteria, the Houbara bustard is split into two distinct species, namely the Asian houbara (Chlamydotis Macqueenii) and the North African houbara (Chlamydotis Undulata). The Asian and North African houbara differ by subtle variations of appearance.
The Asian houbara bustard covers a wide geographical range from the Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, India and all the way through Kazakhstan. The North African houbara bustard covers most of North Africa, from Western Sahara to Egypt.
The bird spends the majority of its time on the ground foraging for food. It is an omnivorous bird with a diet consisting of plants, seeds, insects, spiders, small rodents and lizards.
The greatest threats facing houbara are poaching, unregulated hunting, habitat loss through urbanization and agriculture, and habitat degradation through overgrazing.
The Houbara is an emblematic species in the heritage of the UAE and, as a leader in proactive species conservation, IFHC is committed to programmes that strive to educate the Emirati youth on the UAE’s abundant wildlife and natural environment.
The Houbara Fund is a strategic partner with Connect with Nature to advance their work through supporting education and awareness among the youth in UAE.
Everyone plays a role in saving the Houbara. You can find out how to take conservation action to help this important bird in the UAE’s heritage.
Photo credits: IFHC, EAD and Oliver Wheeldon
Houbara feed mostly at sunrise or dusk
- Adult houbara are mainly solitary but can hunt in small groups depending to the period of the year
- The male houbara bustard has long, black feathers on the back of its neck and white feathers on the front, lower neck
- Wide bands of distinct black and white feathers feature on the wings and the square tail is sandy-brown with four distinct black bars
- The make houbara performs extravagant displaying behaviour, including fluffing out the neck feathers and throwing its head back
- The female houbara visits one display site for mating and leaves to another area to lay her eggs
- Male houbara weigh an average of 2.2 kilos
- Female houbara weigh an average of 1.2 kilos