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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Species Fact Profile: Kori Bustard

Kori Bustard
Ardeotis kori (Burchell, 1822)

Range:  South and East Africa
Habitat:  Open Grassland, Bushveld, Semi-Desert
Diet:  Insects, Reptiles, Rodents, Seeds, Roots, Melons
Social Grouping: Solitary or Small Flocks
Reproduction: Polygamous, female alone incubates 1-2 eggs in shallow scrape for 23-24 days, chicks remain with mother well after fledging at 4-5 weeks, sexually mature at 2 years
Lifespan: 26 Years (Captivity)
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern, CITES Appendix II

  • At 11-19 kilograms and 1.2 meters in length, they are the largest of the bustards and one of the heaviest flying birds in the world
  • Bulky body with a long, thick neck and long legs; the face and neck are grey with a distinctive black crest, the rest of the body is brown on top and white underneath
  • There are two geographically distinct subspecies: A. k. kori (southern) and A. k. struthiunculus (northern)
  • They are primarily terrestrial, and are reluctant to fly unless in danger; they are often seen walking behind grazing ungulates or visiting recently burned areas to capture exposed or flushed prey
  • Known to consume Acacia gum, but it is unknown if they eat the gum itself or the insects within the gum.  The Afrikaans name for the bird is Gompou, or "gum peacock"
  • Predators include lions, leopards, caracals, jackals, and eagles; if confronted with a predator, they will spread their wings and tail to appear larger, growl as predators
  • Unlike many birds, kori bustards can drink water by sucking it, instead of scooping it up with their beaks and tossing it back
  • Carmine bee-eaters sometimes perch on the backs of bustards, catching insects stirred up by walking bustards; the bee-eaters in turn will warn the bustards of approaching danger
  • The male's courtship display consists of strutting with the crest raised, neck inflated, and tail feathers cocked while emitting a low-pitched "boom" call
  • They do not have a preen gland, but produce powder down and dust bathe
  • Thought to make small, local migrations is response to changes in rainfall or food supply
  • Threatened by habitat loss and hunting, they have a low tolerance of human activity.  They have a slow reproductive rate and will not breed during stressful years

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