The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) also known as Maldhok (???????)is a bustard found in India and eastern length of Pakistan. It is threatened by loss of its habitat, large expanses of grassland and low scrub.
It is a large ground dwelling bird with a long neck and long bare legs like that of an ostrich. It stands at about a metre high and is a large, brown and white bird, the male is about 122 cm (48 in) in length, its weight is 18"?32 lb (8"?14.5 kg) and the female 92 cm (36 in) in length, its weight is 7.8"?15 lb (3.5"?6.75 kg). The sexes are similar in appearance although the male is deep sandy buff coloured. The crown of the head is black and crested. In the female which is smaller than the male, the head and neck are not pure white and the breast band is either rudimentary or absent.
The male is polygamous. The female lays only single egg once in a year and incubates it for about 27 days. Nests are situated in the open ground and males take no part in incubation or care of the developing young. The eggs are at risk of destruction from other animals. The fledglings tend to remain with their mother until the following breeding season. Males are solitary during the breeding season but may flock in the non-breeding season.
It lives in arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas. It is omnivorous in diet feeding on seeds of grasses, small shrubs, insects, rats, grams, groundnuts or millets depending on the season.
Breeds during March to September during which time the inflated fluffy white feathers of the male are inflated and displayed. The male also raises the tail and folds it on its back. The neck is folded and the male periodically produces a resonant deep, booming call.
The current population is estimated at less than 1,000. The main threat is habitat loss, in some areas such as in Rajasthan due to increased irrigation. Some populations migrate into Pakistan where hunting pressure is high. The bird is found in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh states of India. Ghatigaon and Karera santuaries in Madhya Pradesh no longer appear to have any birds, whereas they used to have a sizeable population in the past. Other sanctuaries with the species include Karera Wildlife Sanctuary in Shivpuri district; Nannaj, 18 km from Solapur in Maharashtra, Shrigonda taluka in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary, 45 km from Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh .
indian bustards feed on beetles,grasshoppers,seeds and ground nuts.