Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori)
Kori Bustard are huge, 50" (128cm) birds with thick off-white necks, with black patches at the base. They have black crests & foreheads and behind the yellow eyes are black stripes curving up to the crown. They are brown above, with wavy, erect grey feathers on neck and breast. A black and white chequered pattern is apparent at the bend of the wings. Off-white underparts. Males are substantially larger than females. The long legs and feet are sometimes pale yellow or off-white and have three forward facing toes. The males undergo quite a transformation when displaying breeding plumage; their neck feathers puff out like old-fashioned hand warmers and gain a black tinge. Their tails stick up, pointing almost forwards and masses of white feathers show underneath. They strut about, with a raised crest and the Kori Bustard's display can be seen for a great distance. Even their call changes, to a deep "woomp".
Kori Bustards are seen singly, in pairs, small family groups and sometimes in larger gatherings after a fire or recently harvested field. Often seen walking with great purpose across the savanna, or hiding from the sun under a tally tree during the heat of the day. Kori Bustards are Africa's largest flying bird, weighing up to 42lbs (19kg) and can take off from a standing start.
The male, when displaying his breeding plumage, stands and struts about, calling with a deep "wooomp". They put on elaborate displays, hoping to attract females and mate with as many females as possible and have no interest in raising the young. Kori Bustards nest on the ground, in a shallow scrape, usually hidden by a low tree or bush. An average of two pinkish-brown speckled eggs are laid and incubated for around 3 weeks. The chicks can walk with their mother within hours of being born and fledge a month later, but cannot fly until they are over 3 months old. Consequently, only one of the chicks survives to adulthood. Kori Bustards are known to live for around 25 years in captivity.
Kori Bustards are omnivorous. They forage in bushes and short trees, but mostly pick insects and small reptiles from the ground. Their favourite food are grasshoppers and caterpillars. They are often seen in the company of large herbivores, searching for disturbed insects in the short grass. Kori Bustards will occasionally take the eggs of ground-nesting birds and more rarely, the chicks. Much of their regular food is seeds, but they will also take grass. A particular delicacy for this Bustard is the gum from the Acacia tree. Most of their liquid needs come from what they eat, but occasionally they frequent watering holes or slow streams, to suck up water.
Kori Bustards used to be more common than now, but agriculture has made them less so. Most are seen in Kenya's National Parks, below 2,000 metres. More common from the highlands of the Great Rift Valley to Loita Plains, south to the Mara GR and in the south, around Tsavo NPs, Shimba Hills and Tana River. Residents of open grassland.
Extra Kori Bustard Facts
Kori Bustards have two subspecies:
Ardeotis kori kori, found in southern Africa and Mozambique.
Ardeotis kori struthiunculus, found in Kenya and the rest of eastern Africa.
Photographed at Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.
Keywords:bird, bustard, kenya, kori bustard, wildlife