Beautiful Bustards

Kori Bustard, Botswana, Africa

Kori Bustard, Botswana, Africa

One of the world’s heaviest birds, bustards are large, terrestrial Old World birds.


They are grassland birds and do not usually fly, though they are capable.


Classified in the family Otididae, there are 27 different bustard species in the world.  Many species populations have declined, some have been reintroduced with success.  Bustard info here.


As omnivores they have an expansive diet of seeds, locusts, reptiles, carrion, and more.  With long, strong legs and big toes, they slowly walk across grass fields, feeding.  They nest on the ground, and are known for elaborate mating dances.


Australian Bustard, Queensland

Australian Bustard, Queensland. Male displaying

I have seen the Kori Bustard in Africa numerous times, and also the Australian Bustard.  In the same genus, Ardeotis, they look similar; though the Australian is considerably smaller.


There is no mistaking a bustard, there is no other grass bird this big.


The Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori) is one of the largest species and occurs in many African countries, primarily southern and eastern Africa.


Botswana: Kori Bustard and Crowned Lapwings

Botswana: Kori Bustard and Crowned Lapwings

The male Kori stands 2-4 feet tall (61-91cm) and weighs 15-40 lbs (7-18kg).


There is a suspected decline of the species in Africa due to unregulated hunting, power line collisions, and loss of habitat.  Kori info here.


On a different continent, we were lucky while driving back roads in Queensland to come upon the Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis).  The grass was knee-high and they were several hundred feet away, hidden in it.


Also called brush turkey, the male was strutting around in a mating display, so we were thrilled.  Australian bustard info here.


Queensland Australia, back road beside bustards

Queensland Australia, back road beside bustards

There was not much activity on this back road, and we probably would have missed them if we hadn’t been always and forever on the lookout for new birds.


Having experienced Kori Bustards in Africa, we knew right away what they were.


What a supreme delight to come upon these magnificent birds quietly cavorting, and nearly invisible to the rest of the world.


Male Kori Bustard, Kenya. Photo: Sumeet Moghe. Courtesy Wikipedia

Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise noted



28 thoughts on “Beautiful Bustards

  1. A unique, beautiful looking bird. Thank you so much Jet for bringing these birds “nearly invisible to the rest of the world” to us. Great photo captures! 🙂

  2. Again, you have introduced me to a species I know nothing about. I can imagine seeing one – at 2′ to 4′ high would be quite an experience! Thank you so much, Jet….I always learn so much from your blog. Janet:)

  3. I will admit to a double take at your title Jet! An omnivore bird that is 40 pounds? Seems like one might not want to get one’s fingers too close?
    Always admire the skill to pick out birds in a landscape. We would be either completely oblivious or comment something intelligent like ” That looks like a bird…or a finger eater.”

    • Well, it helps that there’s two of us looking for birds: one to drive on the “wrong” wide of the road which is really not wrong to them but is terribly disorienting for us foreigners, and the other to scan the landscape and shout “Stop” when necessary. lol. Your comment made me laugh, Sue, and your visits are always a pleasure. Thank you.

  4. Great post and photos, Jet! I had a privilege to see these birds in Kenya in our early days in Africa…but no captures by that Kodak instamatic have survived into this digital age 🙂

    • Although photos are great, it is fortunate you have remembered the joy of seeing the Kori bustards, Tiny. I cannot imagine forgetting a siting of one of these lovely birds. And I’m really glad you saw them! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. This large bird is beautiful as much as elusive, I was impressed at the intense stare before running out of sight. Thanks for the nice post! 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing the great photos and the introduction to another interesting bird. During the summer I had my first experience of having an Egret and Heron discourage my company by yelling at me and managed not to flee in the kayak, but if I ever encountered the large Australian Bustard and it made a harsh barking sound at me, I have no doubt I would be running for the car.

  7. When I was a small kid I was fascinated by the books on the shelves of my father’s small library. The most remarkable was one entitled The Great Bustard. I never got around to reading it, but I figured it had something to do with an amazing world, one of whose creatures is so well represented here!

    • And you were right, Walt. The Great Bustard is said to “possibly” be the “heaviest living flying animal.” A great bird, it was no doubt a great story. Wikipedia says they live mostly in southern and central Europe and temperate Asia. Thanks so much for your comment and memory, much enjoyed.

  8. I had never heard of this bird’s name before, quite interesting and indeed a beauty! I’m surprised how large they get, that’s pretty big. Thanks for including the photo including the Crowned Lapwings showing size difference!

    • I’m really glad to introduce you to the bustards, Donna. They are a grand bird, and yes, you see how big they are in comparison to the lapwings. Thank you for your visit and comment, always appreciated.

  9. Incredible! I googled more images to get a better idea of their size–eg., next to a wildebeast. Yikes. Almost looks prehistoric. I am always and forever grateful that you and Athena are always and forever on the lookout for new birds.

    • It’s a great way for two introverts to see the world, by hanging out with the birds. ha ha. How fun that you got a good idea of the large size of the bustards, Nan. Thanks so much for your interest and kind words.

  10. I really enjoyed learning about these big old bustards – I don’t know, such a beautiful bird deserves a kinder sounding name…
    As Nan and others have commented, they’re quite the size and somehow ancient-looking.

  11. Pingback: Beautiful Bustards — Jet Eliot – Guinea Conakry Presidential Election 2020.

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