While I was growing up, most cryptically-coloured ‘chicken-like’ birds were erroneously known colloquially as ‘pheasants’ and later as ‘francolin’. Some still are francolin, but the Red-necked Francolin has became known as the Red-necked Spurfowl (Pternistis afer). Thanks to that marvellous book, Beat about the Bush: Birds by Trevor Carnaby, I learned that Spurfowl differ from Francolins both by being more robust and usually having a maximum of two spurs on each leg.

This is the only spurfowl in southern Africa with a red bill, red around the eyes, a red throat and red legs. While their colouring is similar, the females are tend to be smaller and lack the spurs.

I have seen these distinctive terrestrial birds in riverine scrub, savanna and grassland areas. These ones were photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park.


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