Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Vocal behaviour of Orange River Francolin Scleroptila levaillantoides based on visual and sound-playback surveys

Johann H van Niekerk


Fieldwork to study the vocal behaviour of Orange River Francolin Scleroptilia levaillantoides was conducted on a farm in the Heidelberg district, Gauteng province, South Africa, during August 2009 to March 2011. Orange River Francolins possess a basic repertoire of seven calls and one mechanical sound. From 83 francolins tested with playback calls only 33 (39.7%) responded with call backs over the course of the study period. This low response rate in the population is ascribed to habituation because most of the coveys were tested repeatedly on a weekly basis. From a management point of view, call backs can be used to locate coveys in the grass that could then be approached, flushed and counted. Alternatively, it is possible to locate coveys with interactive sound equipment and then multiply the number of call-back localities with an average covey size (about two to three francolins) to determine the size of the population. A ‘ke-ri ke-chi’ playback call enticed three different calls from Orange River Francolins that can be used for management purposes, including the ‘ke-ri ke-chi’, cacophony and female calls. These three calls can be used to locate Orange River Francolins, determine dispersion, habitat preferences, breeding cycle and to identify subadults, males and females.

OSTRICH 2012, 83(3): 147–152

AJOL African Journals Online