Save the Poor Bustard!

Last Updated on August 18, 2019 by Red Nomad OZ

Australian Bustard at Quobba, Western Australia
Australian Bustard at Quobba, Western Australia

The superb double entendre of 70’s conservation poster slogan ‘Save the Poor Bustard’ gave my childish mind what I can now identify as a salacious thrill. It could actually be repeated without the speaker being accused of swearing!!

All the same, it shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise when, after testing the slogan out once or twice, I was strongly ‘discouraged’ from saying it again …

Perhaps that’s why Google insists that ‘bustard’ is a misspelling – which may or may not say something about the linguistic abilities of those who google ‘bastard’.  Whatever.  But whether the reason I couldn’t find the poster is because a) Google is too puritanical or b) it just doesn’t exist in cyberspace or c) I just imagined the whole thing is academic because the result is the same!

The stately and measured pace of bizarre Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) as it moves across the grassy plains that its preferred habitat is deceptively slow!

And such a large bird with its oddly proportioned shape and clearly defined colour blocks, like an inept child’s drawing of an emu crossed with an alien should be easy to spot, right?

Exit stage left ... Australian Bustard
Exit stage left … Australian Bustard

But despite it’s 1.2 metre height, and the open plains on which it travels, when threatened the bustard freezes into a cryptic posture pose or simply continues its slow and deliberate pace and disappears into the landscape.

As this Australian Bustard, spotted near Western Australia’s Quobba Blowholes did, leaving an unexpectedly almost-too-small photographic window for this amateur photographer!
Maybe there’s something to the alien connection after all …

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  1. I saw a fellow in the 1970’s wearing a “Poor Bustard” t-shirt with a drawing of the bird on it. I loved it then and wish I could get a t-shirt today. Anyone know if that’s possible?

    1. How cool is that, Chris? I’d LOVE a “Poor Bustard” T-shirt too, but I googled it, and nothing much came up. I DID find some Bustard T-Shirts on RedBubble, but not with the original logo and slogan. I’d love the poster too … with any luck someone else will be able to help???

  2. @Yvonaut – I think they are very similar! But you’d have to see both to REALLY know!
    @NixBlog – It’s even sadder that many of the threats are preventable.
    @Kusum – Thank you! It’s not often my bird photos are so successful!!

  3. @Rajesh – Thank you!
    @Rohrerbrot – Thank you! We always look out for the bustard when we see large open grass plains!! It’s so exciting to see it live!
    @NatureFootstep – Haha, I never thought to blame Google … I’m sure one day they’ll change the name, but it’ll always be a bustard to me!
    @Hootin’ Anni – Haha!! Now you see why us kids thought the name was so cool!!
    @Mary – Haha!! But I hope I don’t outlive the species!
    @Jim – Thank you!
    @EG Camera Girl – It sure does!!
    @Small City Scenes – And what do you know! I feel even MORE vindicated that SFlaGuy (in comments above) found the poster!!

  4. @Hanne Bente – Thanx for joining in my meme! One day I’ll get to see a tree sparrow too!
    @Céline & Philippe – Thank you! And thanx for following – I look forward to catching up with you more often!
    @Carletta – Haha, the time window nearly got me!! But you should see the next few photos in the sequence!!!
    @Phil – The Australian Bustards were also known as the ‘Plains Turkey’ for obvious reasons …
    @i stora drag – That’s what is so great about the world wide web!
    @Betty – I still chuckle like a little kid whenever I read the name!
    @TexWisGirl – It’s like a cartoon come to life!
    @SFlaGuy – You’re the MAN!! But SSHHhh.. you’ve uncovered my imperfect memory … let’s see if anyone notices!!!!

  5. @Aleah – If it’s afraid, it doesn’t appear so! But perhaps that’s one of the reasons for it’s downfall …
    @Rose – That would have been great! But I bet there’s none around civilisation too much now, more’s the pity! Although there’s probably more predator danger in ‘civilisation’!
    @Go Camping – Haha, I’m not sure how they were named – but maybe by someone with a sick sense of humour and no spelling ability??!!
    @Pieces of Sunshine – They’re WAY bigger than they look!
    @Cathy – So you can understand my childhood delight in the name then, huh?!?!
    @Stewart M – Haha, I know that a ‘point & clicker’ like me with no fancy camera equipment can never be a real bird photo contender, but I do my poor best!! They DO appear not to be hurrying – but then they’re suddenly out of photo range, and out of sight!!
    @Debbie – Thank you, you’re too kind!

  6. @diane b – I’m only half joking about the alien connection! They really are weird looking birds!
    @PDP – That’s EXACTLY what he was doing! They never seem afraid, but they keep their eyes on you until they get out of sight!
    @AreWeThereYet – There’s a few different versions around the planet – but not sure if there’s one in the US. Who knows – one day you might get lucky!!!
    @Kerri – They have such a stately, elegant and precise way of walking they wouldn’t be out of place at a black tie dinner!
    @Filip & Kristel – The photo would have been better with a human in it for comparison – but then the bird wouldn’t have been in it!
    @TMWH – I think they are similar, but not sure about the snakes. If they DO eat snakes, then I’m getting one for a pet!
    @Saz – I’m not sure who named it, but they have a lot to answer for!
    @Pat – Maybe that’s why it’s named so inelegantly – to take it down a peg or two!
    @eileeninmd – I think we have around the same number of species as the US! Weird, huh?!
    @Sallie – Yes, that’s not funny at all … they apparently used to be everywhere, but now are only confined to the outback.
    @Rohrerbot – I have other shots, but this is the closest I’ve ever been to a bustard!

  7. @Alessandra – Haha, I’m sure we don’t want to know what they call us!!!
    @Andrew – That’s a clever questioning technique that I wish I’d known when I was young!! Funny how the ‘bad’ words we used back then are pretty lame now, huh?!
    @Carole M – I couldn’t believe he was moving so fast! It sure didn’t look like it!!
    @Jane & Lance – Aha! I just KNEW there’d be some doubters … see the comment and link by SFlaGuy a bit further down!! My memory wasn’t quite exact, but the principle is the same!!
    @mick – And the number of birds to find seems to go up every year as new sightings of rarities are verified, and new vagrants wander in … I’ll just stick to the random sightings!!
    @FruitCake – Wow, I never pictured you as a short blonde!! But I bet you can also do lithe & graceful, right??!!
    @Beach Bum – How do you know I’m not??!!
    @River – It’s a shame I’m not standing next to the bustard for comparison … but somehow I don’t think he’d like that!

  8. It is an elegant looking bird. I am glad you feel vindicated by shouting out the slogan. Haha me too.Strange the ways of critters huh! It just wandered off but you did get a good capture. MB

  9. Okay, I must admit, I mis-read the bird’s name and added an ‘a’ instead of a ‘u’. Whoa….I need to wash my mind out with soap. At least that’s what my mom would’ve done to me. LOL

    Excellent images fo the BUStard.

  10. Your photos are wonderful, but the poor bustard is no match for your writing skills :-). Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  11. Um….I don’t know:) I think your shots are fantastic…nothing amateurish at all about them. It would be a real thrill to see this bird in the landscape. Looking forward to reading more from your blog. All my best. Chris Las Aventuras

  12. LOVED the title!
    It is certainly a handsome fellow. I love his coloring. Very easy to see how he would blend right in with the landscape.
    You used your window of time beautifully. These photos are wonderful!

  13. Beatiful nature around you 🙂 And nice pics. I have Uploaded a picture on 1000 words about…..gorges. And thanks fore youre comment on my sparrows! have a nice day 😉

    Hanne Bente.

  14. Thats a great picture of the Bustard – so none of this “proper photographer” stuff please.

    I have only seen this bird once – it strolled (at a very regal pace) across the road just south of Broome. Just as if it had all the time in the world!

    Thanks for linking to WBW – Stewart M – Melbourne

  15. Oh I think he’s just splendid Red! We had a ‘neighbourhood Bustard’ in Tsv when I was a kid and when we kids were told what it was called we totally delighted in calling it by its name – we felt so naughty as it sounded so close to the other word. He was around for ages it seemed. Even though it was outer suburbia back in those times there was still a lot of bush around for him/her.
    Your pics of him/her are awesome.
    Really? that tall? Wow.

  16. The bustard seems so graceful. Is it not afraid of people? Or did you have a camera with a long lens? 🙂 And 1.2 meters! That’s a really big bird!

  17. Australia does have some cool looking birds. Great shots of your Bustard. Thanks for sharing, I will have to learn more about this new bird.

  18. Great photos of the Bustard. We live in a great country (Australia!) and I still have so much to see of it and sooooo many birds to find!

  19. With a pace like you say, makes the poor bustard a great photo opportunity. Even though it almost made it out of your lens; you snapped it just in time; great timing Red!

  20. These images made me smile Red, looks like he ‘felt’ you there, paused, and then thought ‘if…I… just…slowly..walk..out..of..the..picture, phew!!’ Poor old bustard haha!

  21. I’ve never seen a bustard and in your photos he looks to be a tallish, small bird, but then you say he is 1.2 metres, which makes him a smallish, tall bird. Almost as tall as me.

  22. Maybe there’s something to the alien connection after all …

    You sound like me talking about certain members of my family.

  23. At 1.2 metres the bustard is the same height as me, but looks a lithe and graceful bird in your excellent photo. Quobba sounds a good name for an Australian animal.

    TO loved to call out for Hymn 42 at Sunday School – in which congregants would call on God to clutch them to his bosom. And cousin Stephen destroyed his mother’s record of South Pacific by playing Bloody Mary over and over… see what you have started?

  24. Hello:
    We are hugely taken with these absolutely splendid photographs of the bustard seen against a landscape where, we can easily imagine, it could quickly become ‘lost’ if danger threatened.

    A great pity that the poster of the past seems to have disappeared – if it ever was!!

  25. I wish I had known that word when I was young. As it was, the word bum used to send us into hysterical laughter. ‘Mum, what’s another word for hobo?’

    I don’t really know anything about bustards. I’d better learn something if they are endangered.

  26. I was surprised too… by the slogan and spelling and name… I mean, the slogan is great! :-).

    Poor bustards, I hope conservation works, but I must admit that if they know how human call them they probably wouldn’t be thrilled. I wonder how the call us!


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