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A photo of a Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori)
Kori Bustard

Kori Bustard

Ardeotis kori

The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) stands as the largest flying bird native to Africa, a member of the bustard family Otididae. Males are particularly hefty, possibly the heaviest living animal capable of flight. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males significantly outweighing females. Their plumage is cryptically colored, blending into their savanna habitats with a mottled pattern of grey, brown, black, and white.

Identification Tips

Adult kori bustards are distinguished by their large size, heavy build, and a distinctive black crest on their heads. Their eyes are ringed with white, and they possess a black collar at the base of the hind-neck that extends onto the sides of the breast. The legs are long and yellowish, and the bill is light greenish horn-colored. Juveniles resemble females but are browner with more spotting on the mantle.

Habitat

Kori bustards favor open grassy areas with sandy soil, short grass, and occasional trees or bushes for cover. They are found in plains, arid plateaus, grasslands, lightly wooded savannas, and semi-deserts, avoiding densely wooded areas.

Distribution

This species is widespread across southern Africa, with populations extending from Botswana and Namibia to South Africa, Mozambique, and parts of East Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Behaviour

Kori bustards are primarily terrestrial, spending much of their time foraging on foot. They exhibit cautious behavior, often fleeing on foot before resorting to flight. They are known for their slow, deliberate walk and can be solitary or found in groups, especially around abundant food sources.

Song & Calls

The kori bustard is generally quiet but can produce a deep, booming mating call, a loud growling bark when alarmed, and a snapping bill sound during close encounters.

Breeding

Breeding is influenced by rainfall, with males engaging in lek mating, displaying at regular sites to attract females. Females lay eggs on the ground in shallow hollows, often near trees or shrubs, and raise the young without male assistance.

Similar Species

The kori bustard can be confused with other large bustards like Denham's and Ludwig's bustards but can be differentiated by its greyer appearance and lack of white upperwing markings in flight.

Diet and Feeding

An opportunistic omnivore, the kori bustard's diet includes insects, small vertebrates, and plant material. They forage by walking slowly and picking at the ground, often following herds of ungulates to catch prey disturbed by their movement.

Conservation Status

The kori bustard is classified as Near Threatened due to habitat destruction, hunting, and collisions with power lines. While they can be locally common in protected areas, their populations are generally scarce outside these regions.

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Kori Bustard Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Kori Bustard is the national bird of Botswana

Kori Bustards on Birda

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