Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Heavyweight and Long Necked Kori Bustards

By: Eduardo C. Gonzalez

The Kori Bustards are very heavy birds. They can weigh as much as 19 kilograms (almost 42 pounds). They are land based birds and they have very long necks. Their feet are quite lengthy with three fingers. Their feathers are light brown or gray feathers.

They have crown - like heads that reach their black crest. There are noticeable white stripes over each eye.The chins, throats and necks are creamy white. The underparts of these huge birds have a brownish yellow combination of colors with thick, dark brown lines.

Their tails have broad bands that are colored grayish brown, brown and white. Their flight feathers have colors that are similar to the color of their tails. The areas on their shoulders have diversified black and white color patterns. These birds feed on plant – like berries and animal - like lizards. For their young ones, their main meals are insects. The acacia trees have gum that the Kori Bustards feed on. They drink fluids by sucking, unlike other birds that scoop up water with their bills.

 These birds are polygamous. They will have more than one mate. During pre-mating the males will make their necks swell and drag their wings, dancing for the females. They will go on and on, making their feathers stand erect. They will bow towards the females as their beaks swell, then emit a prolonged. sound. The Kori Bustards will walk slowly with well measured strides. The males will puff up their throats, while their frontal neck feathers spread outwardly. Their heads with raised up crests will lean backwards. Their wings will hang down. Their tails will go upwards and its direction is towards their necks. With all the actions done by the males, the females will definitely notice them. The males do these actions early in the day.

Males play no role in raising their young ones. The females remain on the nests, only leaving briefly to eat. They will lay eggs once a year. Incubation can take 23 – 30 days. Females do not build thick nests and there are times that the females will lay their eggs on the ground.

Kori Bustards will stay on the ground most of the time because of their weight. They are called bustards because the word means "birds that walk". They fly only when it becomes a necessity, but generally they behave like ostriches and emus which are flightless predators in Australia.

They live long but breed slowly. They stay in areas where there is an abundance of food. They migrate alone or in pairs or groups. These birds are often seen in woodlands and plains that are filled with grass.

These birds are known to be strong fliers. They will beat their wings strongly when taking off. Once they are in the air, they glide fast and strong. They will only fly when it is necessary. When they they see danger they prefer to walk away.

Kori Bustards live in wide grasslands and in savannas that are not so wooded. They like areas with short grass. They migrate, but less often than other birds do. These birds will only migrate when there is insufficient food. The scenery where they live must be nice looking. Kori Bustards are found in East Africa and in South Africa. They can be seen also in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.   These are wonderful birds to look at. They look so charming and their actions can entertain anyone.

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