The Somali Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori struthiunculus) is the largest flying bird native to Africa.
The Somali Kori Bustard has a large head and long thin yellowish-white legs. It has mostly grey and brown feathers, finely patterned with black and white markings. Its neck is black and grey-brown with a black collar, whereas its chin and throat are white with thin black bars. It has a black crest. Above it pale yellow eyes is a white stripe. Its belly is white, and its tail has broad grey-brown bands. Its beak is light green. Its feet have three forward-facing toes.
It grows to about 150 centimetres (59 inches) tall, with a wingspan of about 250 centimetres (98 inches).
It is a ground-dwelling (terrestrial) bird. The Somali Kori Bustard walks slowly, because it is looking along the ground for food.
It is an omnivore, eating insects (such as grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars), spiders, scorpions, and termites, as well as lizards, snakes, and small mammals. It eats during the morning and evening, and hides during the day.
The Somali Kori Bustard is found in East Africa, from Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, and Kenya to Tanzania. Kenya may have the most Somali Kori Bustards of any country in the world. It is found inland, and not in the coastal regions. It prefers open grasslands with short grass and small shrubs.
It needs a lot of space to gain speed on the ground before taking off in flight. This is why it prefers open grasslands and lowlands.
It has no preen gland, which means that it cannot clean its own feathers. Instead, they have powder down feathers. It cleans its feathers by rolling in dust. This is called dust bathing.
They are often seen alone or in pairs when breeding, but they are also found in small groups of 5-6 individuals.
Males do a courtship dance to attract females. They generally do not have a nest. Females lay 1-3 grey-brown blotchy eggs in a hollow ground area, hidden in the grass. Females sit on their eggs without assistance from the males, until the eggs hatch after 23-30 days.
The chicks have some feathers when they are born – they are precocial. Their mothers feed them for a few weeks, until they are ready to fly at about 4-5 weeks old.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM