We were really surprised at all the Swainson’s and Natal Spurfowl (both formerly known as francolins) families with tiny chicks that we encountered during our recent visits to the Kruger National Park in May and June, supposedly well into our austral winter (and dry) season.
Swainson’s Spurfowl is a fairly large (up to 800g) type of francolin. They are normally encountered in pairs or small groups numbering up to 6 in woodland, savanna, grassland and planted fields, where they subsist on seeds, berries, other plant material and insects.
In South Africa, these birds breed mostly in summer and autumn, although nesting has been recorded throughout the year. Nests are well-hidden scrapes in the ground in which up to 7 eggs are laid.
Swainson’s Spurfowl is a common resident of South Africa’s northern provinces (Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga). Outside of our borders they occur in Lesotho, Swaziland, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia, and marginally into Malawi. Despite being hunted as food, the IUCN considers Swainson’s Spurfowl as being of “Least Concern” owing to an abundant and aparently stable population.