Unmistakable bird: large (about 105 cm or 3.5 ft), very bulky and heavy (about 18 kg for males or 40 lb), with an also large wingspan (about 260 cm or 8.5 ft). Rufous upperparts with golden tones and a transverse barring. Greyish head and neck. White underparts. Rufous wings with a black barring and a white wing band. Females similar to males, with more muted tones and a smaller size.
Species of open and flat areas: meadows, steppes, grass plains, cereal crops and environments with little trees and slightly undulating terrain, where cereal or sunflower crops are interspersed.
Vagrant or dispersive species in the province, without a fixed presence. Nest on the ground. One annual laying in spring of 3 eggs. Very elaborate bridal courtship based on "leks" (exhibitions of males in specific areas to impress females with spectacular displays and movements). Feeding based on legumes and other vegetables during autumn and winter, and on insects during spring and autumn.
The Great Bustard is a very rare bird in Malaga. Occasionally specimens have been observed without any evidence around the Fuente de Piedra lagoon (stages 17 and 18 of the Great Path). They are birds resident in other areas of Andalusia (there is a population in Osuna) but that in certain circumstances make trips based on sex and age. Females and young males disperse, while adult males move great distances from their breeding areas to their summer places.
The Latin name of this species refers to its resemblance to a Little Bustard, which has large hairs on its face, just on both sides of the bill. These hairs, very characteristic of males and similar to the whiskers of felines, are very sensitive. They help the bird to receive sensory information and to transmit it. In addition, they have an attractive function for females during courtship. The Latin word "tarda" means "slow". Thus, the "avu-tarda" is a bird with moustache that is characterized by its slow walking.