Notes on the lek behaviour of the Little Bustard in Italy


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The display behaviour of Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) males was studied in Sardinia and in Apulia. Little Bustard males occured from Aprii to June in steppe-like habitats and cJustered in display centers with average density of 1.9 males/lOO ha. Mean nearest neighbour distance was 450 m. The habitat of the area exploited by the birds consisted mainly of permanent pastures grazed by sheep and cattle, secondly of oat/barley fields and fallow land. The birds were mostly active at dawn and dusk, giving snort calls at the maximum frequency of 1 call/9.3 seconds. More elaborate courtship display, Iike wing flashing and jumping, occurred only in twilight. The author compares the behaviour of Sardinian and Apulian males, finding out some differences in the pattern of display. In Sardinia males showed complete courtship display and occurred always in relaxed groups, while in Apulia the males were never record ed wing flashing or jumping and sometimes they were so dispersed as to be considered "soloists".