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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Natal Spurfowl / Natal Francolin

Afrikaans name: Natalse Fisant

Natal Spurfowl in Kruger National Park

Natal Spurfowl previously known as Natal Francolin

Photo © Steven Herbert

Pternistis natalensis

The Natal Spurfowl has, for many years, been called the Natal Francolin in South Africa. It is found across most of the eastern regions of South Africa. Beyond our borders it is found in most southern African countries except for Namibia. They are found in a variety of habitats including bushveld, hilly slopes, coastal dune forests and forest edges. They often give their presence away with their raucous call. In protected areas, such as game reserves, they can become quite tame and are often seen on the dirt roads or in camp or picnic sites.

Although male and female Natal Spurfowl have similar plumage the male is a fair bit bigger. Males weigh around 500 grams while females weigh less than 400 grams. They feed on seeds, grain, fruit, termites, caterpillars and other insects.

These gamebirds make a good meal for a bird of prey, so it is no surprise that raptors such as Peregrine and Lanner Falcons, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Spotted Eagle Owl and Bateleurs hunt it.

The breeding season is from December to May. Their nest is merely a scrape in the ground where up to 7 eggs are laid. The eggs take around 3 weeks to hatch during which time they are incubated by the female. It takes less than 2 weeks for the chicks to be able to fly for short distances.

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References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 88

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1959 - Page: 158

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 158

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 71

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 58

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 26

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 70

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 23

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Year Published: 2005 - Page: 19

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 74

Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 94

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 146

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 2000 - Page: 146

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Year Published: 1949 - Page: 74

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 121

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1981 - Page: 130

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 175

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 172

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 132

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 138

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 62

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 68

List of South African Birds

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