Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mystery bustards

I recalled on recent trip the American Museum of Natural History that in the hall of birds, in the display window for birds of the African Savannah, there was some strange looking bird that was listed as extinct on the label card, and I had tried to make a note to look into it. I thought that it was some kind of bustard, but when I tried to do some internet searching for a type of extinct bustard, I came up with nothing. It seems that all species of bustard are alive and (relativelty) well.
The most interesting thing I came across was a site all about a program to re-introduce the Great Bustard to England where it once lived. The website, which has some pertty hilariously bad web design, tells how the bird became excinct in Britain by 1832, but thrived elsewhere. Apparently, bustard eggs are being taken from Russia and transported over to Salsibury Plain to hatch.

Great Bustard:

I'm wondering what examples of re-introduced species have been successful. California condors in Arizona is probably the best example I can think of. Grey wolves? That actually seems more like a failure story, with people hating having more wolves around.

Anyway, back to the mystery at the Natural History Museum. I emailed Marylou Murrillo, who works in the textiles department of the AMNH. I asked her if she could take a look at the African birds case adn check it out for me. What she found was that there is a Denham's Bustard in the case, and it is listed as critically endangered.

I had some trouble finding information about Denham's Bustard (formerly known as Stanley's bustard) on the internet, but I did find that 13 different stamps depicting the Denham's bustard from 5 African countries have been issued since 1951.

Angolan stamp:


Anonymous said...

I'm a student and I'm making a non-serious non-profit flash movie about Iraq wildlife for my class. My teacher is a curmudgeon and he won't let me use your great bustard photo in my video without your permission. Would you mind if I used your great bustard photo?

Katie said...

of course you can use the photo. but only on the condition that you sneakily write "bastard" instead of "bustard" in a sly reference to your curmudgeon teacher.