Sunday, June 22, 2014

Somali Kori Bustard

The kori bustard may be the heaviest bird capable of flight, vying for that distinction with condors, swans and turkeys. That said, it rarely flies, preferring to walk in open grasslands in search of grasshoppers, dung beetles, reptiles, rodents, seeds, roots, wild melons, and its favorite, small animals toasted in grass fires. 
One of two kori bustards we saw in Nairobi NP.
The chin, throat and neck is whitish with fine black barring and the feathers are loose, giving it a thicker appearance than it really has. The crest on the head is blackish, and it has a white eye stripe above the eye. 
A black collar at the base of the hind-neck extends onto the sides of the breast.
There are two distinct populations, each of which is a different subspecies. The "nominate" kori is found in southern Africa in Botswana, Zmbabwe, Namibia, southern Angola, South Africa and Mozambique. The "Somali" kori, which we saw, is found in East Africa in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania. The Somali kori has a more boldly patterned head and more black and white patterning in its wings. The two subspecies are separated by the miombo woodlands of central Africa. The name "kori" is derived from the Tswana language, spoken in southern Africa, which calls this bird the "Kgori." 
It has a brown back with white underparts and the wing has black and white speckling on the shoulders.
We saw them on several occasions: in Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Nairobi National Park (where we saw two of them on separate occasions). 
This bird was found in Ngorongoro Crater. Photo by Steven Shuel. 
This picture, from Wikipedia, is of a kori bustard shot in Nairobi in 1915. It shows how large this bird can get. 


  1. That final shot is totally bizarre. I can't imagine one getting even half this size.

  2. Well I always wondered where Big Bird came from.

  3. The last picture is amazing. Nevertheless, I think I'll stick to turkey for my Thanksgiving dinner.