Kori Bustard

The Kori Bustard is one of the heaviest birds on the African continent

South Africa BirdlifeThe Kori Bustard {Ardeotis Kori}

The Kori Bustard is an omnivore and one of the heaviest birds on the African continent. In fact, some birds have been found to weigh almost 20 kilograms.

This is a terrestrial bird that is characterised by its long neck and feet, and the black crest on top of its head. Each eye is highlighted by a white strip above it. The top, visible part of the body is brown, while the underside is a lighter cream colour. The shoulders are highlighted with a black and white checked pattern.

Because they are so heavy, Kori Bustards opt for walking; flying only when it is absolutely necessary. Still, when they do fly, their true power is witnessed as they glide through the African skies almost effortlessly. Their walk is elegant and slow.

Quick Facts


Range mass: 11 - 19 kg.
Range length: 71 - 120 cm.
Range wingspan: 230 - 275 cm.


The Kori Bustard lives in open plains and grassy savannahs, preferably with some trees and shrubbery. However, in some cases, they may be found in more arid areas. Essentially, the Kori Bustard prefers a habitat that is open enough for them to gauge their surroundings at all times. This bird does not tend to migrate unless food and water is in scarce supply.


The Kori Bustard can be found in South Africa and its surrounding countries (Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana), as well as in East Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania). The spectacular Etosha National Park (Namibia) and the Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) are both home to this species.


As an omnivore, the Kori Bustard feeds on berries, as well as little animals (including snakes and lizards), while juveniles feed mainly on protein-rich insects. Interestingly, the Kori Bustard drinks by sucking the water up, as opposed to using its bill to scoop it.


The Kori Bustard tends to stay in one area for as long as food and water resources are plentiful, rather than migrating. These birds are happy to amble the savannahs on their own, but are also often seen in groups or pairs. When faced with danger, the Kori Bustard will try to leave on foot before resorting to flight. As a group, they walk slowly and in a loose line across the grasslands as they forage for food.


To woo the female, the male Bustard will ruffle its feathers and inflate its neck, performing a dance to impress her. They can also inflate their bill, and make a loud noise, while she takes notice of his efforts.


Once she has laid the egg or eggs, she will stay on the spot (usually just a piece of ground as opposed to a nest) almost constantly, except for brief periods in which she will feed. The Kori Bustard usually only breeds once a year. The male plays no role in the incubation of the eggs or the care of the chicks.

Chicks remain with the mother until well after they have reached the fledgling stage (usually around five weeks).

The Kori Bustard is considered to be sexually mature at around two years of age.


The incubation of the eggs is solely the responsibility of the female. In preparation, she will make a shallow hollow in the ground. After laying, she will sit on the clutch of one or two eggs for 23 or 24 days.

Life Expectancy

Although it has not been established in the wild, Kori Bustards have been observed to reach between 26 and 28 years in captivity.


The Kori Bustard’s numbers are in gradual decline, but they are still readily found in the wild. Humans are their largest threat, as their habitat is endangered by urban development and pollution. They are also victims of hunting.


Krugerpark; National Zoo and arkive.org.

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