Red-necked spurfowl

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Red-necked spurfowl
Red-necked spurfowl (Pternistis afer cranchii), crop.jpg
Red-necked spurfowl (Pternistis afer cranchii) immature, crop.jpg
Adult and immature P. afer cranchii (Leach, 1818) in Queen Elizabeth NP
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Pternistis
P. afer
Binomial name
Pternistis afer
(Müller, PLS, 1776)
Red-necked spurfowl distribution map.svg
   geographic distribution
  • Francolinus afer
  • Tetrao afer

The red-necked spurfowl or red-necked francolin (Pternistis afer), is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae that is a resident species in southern Africa.


The red-necked spurfowl was described in 1776 by the German zoologist Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller and given the binomial name Tetrao afer.[2] The type locality was later designated as Benguela in western Angola.[3][4] The specific epithet afer is the Latin word for "African".[5] The species is now placed in the genus Pternistis that was introduced by the German naturalist Johann Georg Wagler in 1832.[6][7] A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2019 found that the red-necked spurfowl is sister to the grey-breasted spurfowl.[8]

Although many subspecies have been described only four are now recognised:[7]

  • P. a. cranchii (Leach, 1818) — north Gabon and south Congo Republic though south, east Democratic Republic of the Congo to central Angola and west Zambia to central Tanzania, west Kenya and Uganda[a]
  • P. a. afer (Müller, PLS, 1776) — west Angola, northwest Namibia
  • P. a. castaneiventer Gunning & Roberts, 1911 — south and east South Africa
  • P. a. humboldtii (Peters, W, 1854) — southeast Kenya and north and east Tanzania to Mozambique, northeast Zambia and east Zimbabwe


The red-necked spurfowl is 25–38 cm (9.8–15.0 in) in length, with significant size differences between the subspecies.[9] It is a generally dark spurfowl, brown above and black-streaked grey or white underparts. The bill, bare facial skin, neck and legs are bright red.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The red-necked spurfowl breeds across the central belt of Africa and down the east coast to South Africa.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The red-necked spurfowl is a wary species, keeping to deep cover, although it sometimes feeds in open scrub or cultivation if disturbance is limited and there are thickets nearby. The nest is a bare scrape, and three to nine eggs are laid.


Widespread and common throughout its large range, the red-necked spurfowl is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[1]


  1. ^ Mandiwana-Neudani et al (2019) treat P. a. cranchii as a separate species, Cranch's spurfowl.[8]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2018). "Pternistis afer". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22678855A132050529. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22678855A132050529.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Statius Müller, Philipp Ludwig (1776). Des Ritters Carl von Linné Königlich Schwedischen Lelbarztes uc. uc. vollständigen Natursystems Supplements und Register-Band über alle sechs Theile oder Classen des Thierreichs mit einer ausführlichen Erklärung ausgefertiget (in German). Nürnberg: Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe. p. 129.
  3. ^ Sclater, William Lutley (1920). "Note on the red-necked francolin". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 41: 133–135.
  4. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 85.
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  6. ^ Wagler, Johann Georg (1832). "Neue Sippen und Gattungen der Säugthiere und Vögel". Isis von Oken (in German and Latin). 1832. cols 1218–1235 [1229].
  7. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Pheasants, partridges, francolins". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b Mandiwana-Neudani, T.G.; Little, R.M.; Crowe, T.M.; Bowie, R.C.K. (2019). "Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of African spurfowls Galliformes, Phasianidae, Phasianinae, Coturnicini: Pternistis spp". Ostrich. 90 (2): 145–172. doi:10.2989/00306525.2019.1584925. S2CID 195417777.
  9. ^ McGowan, P.J.K.; Kirwan, G.M. (2020). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Red-necked Francolin (Pternistis afer)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. doi:10.2173/bow.renfra1.01. S2CID 241255267. Retrieved 16 February 2020.

External links[edit]