Kori Bustard Fact File
The kori bustard is a long legged bird with brown feathers across their back. At the front of their wings near the top of the legs is a patch of black and white spotted feathers. Their neck and chin has feathers which are cream with black bands. These neck feathers are loose to make it appear thicker than it is. On the top of the head is a crest of black feathers which can be moved. Their eyes are a brownish-yellow. The long beak is grey.
They have long legs which are covered with scales. These end with a foot that has three toes, all of these face forward.
Kori bustards are the largest of the world’s bustard species. They are also Africa’s heaviest flying bird with an average weight between 11 and 19kg (24-42lbs). A kori bustard will measure 1.2m (4ft) long.
A male kori bustard is normally larger than the female.
These animals are omnivorous. They will feed on insects and small animals such as birds, reptiles and small mammals. Prey is taken live though they will also eat carrion. In addition to meat they feed on a range of fruits, vegetation, seeds and roots. They also eat acacia gum.
To gather food they may visit bushfire affected areas and feed on freshly killed insects. They will also follow large herbivores such as giraffe or zebra and eat insects which are frightened out of the grass by the footsteps of these large animals.
Water is sucked up rather than scooped up like most birds.
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Africa is the native home of the kori bustard and there are two separate populations one in the south and one in the north near the horn of Africa.
Here they can be found throughout Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
They make their home in forests, savannas, shrublands, grasslands and deserts. Kori bustards may also move in to human modified areas such as wheat fields.
Breeding season is varied between the two populations. Typically it takes place from September to February in the southern population and December to August in the northern population.
Males will mate with multiple females throughout a single season and are not involved with raising young. To attract mates they perform an elaborate courtship display. During this they inflate the esophagus to make their neck appear larger and spread out their feathers. They also make a loud booming noise. Groups of males form called a lek where they can perform for a female will select one to mate with.
Mating lasts only a few seconds.
Females make a shallow scrape in the ground which serves as their nest. In to this they will lay one to two eggs. These eggs are pale olive with brown spots.
The female will incubate the eggs on her own for 23 days. Most of the time she remains with the eggs and will only leave to feed. The female will care for the chicks and they fledge at 4-5 weeks old. Often they remain with their mother till the next breeding season.
Younger animals primarily feed upon insects.
Sexual maturity is achieved by 3 years old.
In times of drought there is significantly less breeding success.
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While they are capable of flight the kori bustard will spend most of its time on the ground. This is due to their weight.
They remain in a single area unless food becomes scarce at which point they may complete a short migration.
In addition to the booming call of a displaying male they will also make a bark and a cooing sound.
Kori bustards form a symbiotic relationship with carmine bee-eaters. The bee-eaters ride on the back of the bustard and eat insects which fly up when the bustards walk. In turn the bee-eater can spot predators and warn the bustard of their presence.
They lack the gland that produces an oily secretion which most birds have to assist with preening. To combat this they will dust bathe. They still preen and this works to remove old feathers and parasites along with keeping the feathers in order.
Predators and Threats
When threatened by a predator they will often attempt to flee on foot only flying if they cannot escape on foot.
Humans hunt the kori bustard for food and to use their feathers for the production of fly-fishing lures. They also destroy their habitat.
Due to the demand for their feathers for use in fishing lures zoos in America gather their feathers and provide them to fishers for free. This devalues the feathers and makes hunting the birds unattractive to local people. Prior to this program a single feather may have been worth as much as $500. This could make a single bird worth as much as $10,000.
You can learn more about this program here – https://feathersmc.com/kori-bustard-program/
Another major threat to the kori bustard is collisions with high voltage power lines while flying.
In the Afrikaans language they are known as the ‘gompou’ or gum eating bird.
Kemmi.1 (Stefan Kemmerling) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Middle and Bottom
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
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BirdLife International. 2016. Ardeotis kori. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22691928A93329549. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22691928A93329549.en. Downloaded on 10 August 2020.
Birminghamzoo.com. 2020. Kori Bustard | Birmingham Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.birminghamzoo.com/animal/kori-bustard/> [Accessed 10 August 2020].
Zoo Atlanta. 2020. Kori Bustard – Zoo Atlanta. [online] Available at: <https://zooatlanta.org/animal/kori-bustard/> [Accessed 10 August 2020].
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