Afrotis afraoides (Northern black korhaan, White-quilled korhaan) 

[= Eupodotis afraoides

Witvlerkkorhaan [Afrikaans]; Botswana-trap [Dutch]; Outarde à miroir blanc [French]; Weißflügeltrappe [German]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Gruiformes > Family: Otitidae

Afrotis afraoides (Northern black korhaan, White-quilled korhaan)  Afrotis afraoides (Northern black korhaan, White-quilled korhaan) 

Northern black korhaan male. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Nortern black korhaan female, Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, South Africa. [photo Lizet Grobbelaar ©]

The Northern black korhaan is endemic to southern Africa, and is uncommon to common in a wide variety of habitats. It feeds mainly on insects, such as termites, grasshoppers and beetles, but it also eats plant products, such as seeds. The male vigorously defends his displaying territory from other males, attacking them with his wings and mating with multiple females, who solely incubates the 1-3 eggs and raises the chicks. Amazingly, the chicks can fly when they are only half grown!

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, it is common in Namibia, Botswana and northern South Africa. It occurs in nama karoo, kalahari sandveld, dry sandveld, open savanna and grass-covered dunes. It generally prefers heavily grazed areas with sparse ground cover.

Predators and parasites


Feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates and plant products, such as seeds. It forages by walking slowly, pecking food items from the ground and chasing insects. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plant matter
    • seeds
      • Themeda triandra (Red grass)
      • Lycium (honey-thorns)
      • Conyza bonariensis (Flax-leaf fleabane)
      • Rhus lancea (Karee)
      • Zea mays (Maize)
      • Myrsine africana (Cape myrtle)
      • Melilotus (sweet clover)
    • fruit
      • Lycium (honey-thorns)


  • Polygynous, territorial solitary nester. Courtship is elaborate, involving multiple females and one male and featuring exaggeratedly undulating flight displays, playful chasing and the male displaying his white breast patches. The male is extremely protective of his 200-300 m2 territory, fighting other males by striking with his wings, after which the other male usually flies off.
  • It does not build a nest, laying its eggs directly on the ground among scattered grass tufts and shrubs, often under small thorn trees.
Afrotis afraoides (Northern black korhaan, White-quilled korhaan)  

Northern black korhaan female incubating its eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from September-March.
  • It lays 1-3, usually 1-2 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for 21-23 days (recorded in captivity).
  • The female cares for the chicks, who can fly when they are only half-grown.


Not threatened, although its population has decreased in extensively cultivated areas. In 1980 a dealer was caught with at least 50 Northern black korhaans, that were about to be exported to the Middle east, probably to be used for falconry.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 


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