Kori Bustard – Ardeotis kori
I might be horribly wrong, but I think this is the one bird that has increased in the Etosha National Park. I remember as a child that it was quite something to spot one of these. My father always pointed them out to us. As an adult, we seem to see them every time we are in Etosha. I have seen them next to our national roads as well. So fairly common as far range goes. Not so common when it comes to their courting rituals!
The Kori Bustard is the largest of the bustard family and one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. Weighing in at 12.4kg (male) it is not difficult to understand. (What is heavier?). The male and female are similar in looks although the male is quite a bit bigger than the female.
The Kori Bustard are listed as Vulnerable, but this must be everywhere except in the Etosha National Park. They are mostly sedentary with some local movement. (Those in Etosha must then prefer to stay in Etosha and thus increasing in numbers – good for them!) In their non-breeding season they are found singly or in small groups.
The Kori Bustard enjoys dry open savanna (like that in Etosha and else where in Namibia), woodland and dwarf shrub lands. Their food ranges from dung beetles, lizards, chameleons (no!), snakes (yes!) and carrion. But some of them are also vegetarians enjoying seeds, berries, wild melons and Acacia gum.
They have a very loud booming call. And best of all, they are polygamous. (I thought the bigger birds would all be clever and stay with one female?) And the poor female… legs are laid on the ground in a shallow scrape, and the incubation and caring of the young is taken care of by the female only! (The male probably gallivants while she kids-sit!)
Source: As always, my Robert’s Bird Guide, 2007