Skip to main content
AnimalsFun Facts

The mighty Big 6 birds of the Kruger – The Kori Bustard

By October 15, 2015No Comments
Kori bustard
Male putting on display.
The kori bustard is the largest flying bird in Africa weighing anything up to 19kg! They spend most of their time on the ground, foraging off the ground in small groups, being more active during the day. There are two subspecies of these watchful and wary birds that live up to 20 years.

This characteristic looking bird has a long neck, which is a creamy white colour with black bands, their plumage is either light brown or grey. The bird has a crown with sides that extend into a black crest, and a black and white checked pattern across their shoulder area. 

Habitat

The kori bustard is found throughout Southern Africa as well as the countries east of Africa. Within South Africa they are predominantly found in the eastern Low veld area where the Kruger National Park is situated.

Kori bustard
Kori bustard in flight, a rare sight!
These birds avoid thick wooded areas preferring to call home in areas such as open grass lands, plains, lightly wooded areas, open dry bush veld and semi-desert areas. They only leave the home area once the food in the area is scarce. 

Diet

These opportunistic omnivore hunters have a diverse diet that ranges from small insects and small rodents to creatures such as lizards and chameleons, even snatching eggs from other bird’s nests. They are even said to eat the gum from acacia trees found in the area.

They forage from the ground grazing on grasses and seeds in single sex groups, separating after a few days to form new groups.  
Behaviour

Kori bustards do not have preening glands which release an oily substance helping them to clean their feathers so they indulge in sun and dust baths to clean their feathers. 

They are capable of flight but only do so as a last option, as they need decent space to take off and have heavy wings but once flying their wings are strong and fast.
Kori bustard
Mother kori bustard with chick. 
Reproduction

The male kori bustards, who can be up to twice as heavy as their female counterparts, will attempt to breed with as many females as possible, and take no part in helping to raise the young once the deed is done. These birds reproduce once a year from the sexually mature age of 2 years old.

Males put on an elaborate dance, for the females in the hope of mating, by inflating their neck and trailing their wings while making a booming sound.

Females make a secretive, shallow and hollow nest in the ground to lay one to two eggs after an incubation period of up to 24 hours. The mother stays with the nest most of the time, only leaving to eat. Once hatched, the chicks will follow their mother after a few hours, leaving their mother behind after 5 weeks of age.

Did you know?

Southern carmine bee-eater ride on the back of kori bustards to catch insects as they fly from the grass when disturbed.

Male kori bustards will dual for up to 30 minutes by standing chest to chest and pushing.