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A photo of a Northern Black Korhaan (Afrotis afraoides), male
Northern Black Korhaan, Male

Northern Black Korhaan

Afrotis afraoides

The Northern Black Korhaan, also known as the White-quilled Bustard, is a striking member of the bustard family, Otididae. Exhibiting sexual dimorphism, the male is adorned with black and white barring on the back and wings, while the head, neck, and underparts are cloaked in black. The female, in contrast, sports a pattern of black and buff bars and checks on the head, neck, breast, and upper parts, with a black belly. Both sexes boast red beaks and vivid yellow legs, but it is the male's white primary feathers that set this species apart from its close relative, the Southern Black Korhaan, which has black primaries.

Identification Tips

When observing these birds, look for the male's distinctive black and white barred plumage and the female's more camouflaged black and buff pattern. The white primary feathers are a key identifier in flight. The red beak and yellow legs are also notable features to aid in identification.

Habitat

The Northern Black Korhaan favors open grasslands with vegetation up to a meter tall, grassy dunes, semi-arid scrublands, and the expansive veldt.

Distribution

This species is widely distributed across Southern Africa, with sightings confirmed in Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and northern South Africa.

Behaviour

Primarily ground-dwelling, the Northern Black Korhaan may take to the skies with a burst of flight when disturbed, the male vocalizing a loud "kraark, kraark" call. The male tends to run from intruders with an outstretched head and neck before freezing, blending into the surroundings. The more elusive female is often hidden from view. These birds forage by walking and chasing after their prey, which includes a variety of insects and seeds.

Song & Calls

The male Northern Black Korhaan is known for its raucous "kraark, kraark" call, particularly when flushed from cover or during its courtship display.

Breeding

Breeding can occur at any time of the year. The male's courtship display is quite the spectacle, involving dipping flights and the showing off of his white feathers, along with chasing other birds. Despite his showmanship, he is territorial and will fend off rival males. The nest is a simple ground scrape, where one or two eggs are laid.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists of insects such as termites, ants, grasshoppers, and beetles, as well as spiders, ticks, and seeds. These birds actively forage on the ground, walking and chasing after their prey.

Conservation status

The Northern Black Korhaan is classified as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is a common species with a stable population and no significant threats identified at present.

Northern Black Korhaan Sounds

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Recorded by: © 
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Northern Black Korhaans on Birda

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A photo of a Southern Black Korhaan (Afrotis afra) , male

Southern Black Korhaan

Afrotis afra
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