Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Buff-Crested Bustard

The buff-crested bustard is found in East Africa, from Sudan and Somalia down through Kenya to Tanzania. They lack a hind toe and thus cannot perch, so they are limited to walking on the ground and cannot roost in trees. The male, which I photographed, has a brown unmottled head with a black stripe down the front of the neck and a black chest and belly. Females, which we did not see, are more plain. They have a mottled head, lack the black neck stripe and lack the black chest and belly. It has a buff protrusion of feathers off the back of the head and neck which gives it it's name. 
Buff-crested bustard in Shaba NR, Kenya.
We saw only one, in Shaba National Reserve in northern Kenya. It was the first of several different species of bustards we saw on the trip. Before this trip, I've confused the name "bustard" with "buzzard," and have thought of them as carrion eating relatives of the vulture. They are actually omnivorous, eating lots of plants and insects as well as small animals such as lizards, snakes and rodents. 
This bustard blends in very well with its surroundings.
When we first saw this bird I made a comment that it was "a cute little bustard" which then set of an interesting and humorous discussion with our Kenyan driver about the difference between the words "bustard" and "bastard," a term he'd not heard before and really confused him. Our driver brought this confusion of terms up several more times during the remainder of out trip. 

The bustard is a solitary bird and blends in very well with the surrounding terrain. 


  1. Either way, that's a great name for a funny looking bird.

  2. Someone with a sense of humor created this bird.