x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Meet the new bustard on the block

The African birds join 300 other species at the zoo.

Two Kori bustards have been added to Al Ain Zoo's spoonbill aviary.
Two Kori bustards have been added to Al Ain Zoo's spoonbill aviary.

Kori bustards from eastern and southern Africa are on view at Al Ain Zoo.

The Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is the heaviest bird species in Africa that can fly. It can grow up to 150cm tall and weigh up to 19kg.

The brown bustards have long legs and long necks for striding through the grasslands and the savannah. Carmine bee-eaters often ride on their backs to eat any insects that fly up as the kori bustard forages.

In return, the bee-eaters alert the bustards to predators, including lions, leopards, caracals, eagles and black-back and side-striped jackals.

The bustard is usually quiet but can bark or make snoring noises if startled. It growls if its offspring are in danger, and males roar in courtship displays.

"The males make a very unique deep call that does not seem like a bird call at all, more like a large mammal," said Dr Majid Al Qassimi, an assistant veterinarian at the zoo. "They spend most of their time on the ground walking and pacing."

The kori bustard feeds on lizards, insects, carrion, nuts, fruit, roots and tubers.

Al Ain Zoo's pair come from the National Avian Research Centre in Abu Dhabi and have been at the zoo for two years, but not on display. They will join over 300 species of birds at the zoo. They are in the mixed spoonbill aviary, "pacing the new enclosure they share with others, trying to adjust and stake their new territory," Dr Qassimi said.

The kori bustard can live up to 26 years.

 

azacharias@thenational.ae