Bengal Florican


Houbaropsis bengalensis

Identification:Male 64 cm, 1250–1700 g; female 68 cm, 1700–2250 g. Upperparts and tail buffy brown, vermiculated and patterned black, with broad white panel on closed wing; slight crest, head, neck and underparts black, with elongated breast feathers; legs pale yellowish, bill dark horn to plumbeous brown with yellow lower mandible. Female has black of head and underparts replaced with buff, and has no white on wing; crown brown with buff central stripe. Immature similar to adult female; first spring male partially black, often reverting to female plumage in the second autumn, but thereafter retains full adult male dress.

Habitat: Flat, moist, open grasslands with scattered shrubs and bushes; often prefers areas of relatively short tussocky Imperata grass, recently burnt tracts, or long grass grazed down to c. 50 cm high, feeding in the shorter grass, and retreating in hotter parts of day to the longer. Birds also visit undisturbed mustard fields, and in some places use lightly wooded grassland and heavily grazed land. In traditionally farmed grasslands in the Tonle Sap floodplain, Cambodia,

Feeding: Shoots, flowers, grasses, seeds and berries, but also insects such as locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, and occasionally lizards and small snakes. Vegetable matter predominates in winter and spring, invertebrates becoming important or even exclusive later in the year.

Population: Global population estimated at 350–1500 birds in 2013. The total population of nominate race may be as low as 300–400 birds (2000–2007 estimates): of these, 75–96 individuals remain in Nepal; no recent counts for India.

Breeding season: Mar–Jun. Nest is a scrape in thick grass cover. Eggs 1–2; incubation period c. 25–28 days; chick has Rufus buff down marked with rufescent brown.

Where to find: Florican Grassland, Pursat Grassland

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