NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The biggest flying bird

We had never seen them drinking before

In Summary

• They eat many rodents and insects and, therefore, ensure a healthy balance in nature

Male kori bustard drinks water
Male kori bustard drinks water
Image: GARETH JONES

Early one morning, we drove slowly through the park, hoping to see something special. Due to dry conditions, a fire had burned a section of the park. Many bird species were taking advantage for easy meals. Then we saw the unmistakably large shape of a kori bustard some distance away. It was a male in full breeding plumage.

However, the kori bustard seemed to be slowly walking in a direction that would eventually cross the track, so I positioned the vehicle at a point where it was hoped the bird would cross over as we watched it.

After a patient wait, we were rewarded with a little more than just the bird crossing over. The kori bustard walked down to the edge of the Eland valley dam and proceeded to drink for some time, no doubt very thirsty after being in the burnt area. Wow! What a sighting. We had never seen them drinking before.

The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is the largest flying bird native to Africa. The specific name kori is derived from the Tswana name for this bird, Kgori. Ardeotis kori struthiunculus (the 'Somali kori') is distributed in parts of East Africa. They have more boldly patterned head and slightly more black-and-white patterns on the wings, and is slightly larger. This may be a distinct species and is the sub species found in the Nairobi National Park.

To have kori bustards living so close to a major city is unique. They need to be protected, and the park is a safe haven for them to nest and breed. However, as they often fly out of the park boundary, citizens need to be aware of the vital role they play in the ecosystem as they eat many rodents and insects and, therefore, ensure a healthy balance in nature.

Kori bustard are truly an incredible creation.

For more information on the park you can link to the following websites www.kws.go.ke