Research Article

Female-only care of Swainson’s Spurfowl Pternistis swainsonii chicks frees males for territorial maintenance

Published in: Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology
Volume 88, issue 3, 2017 , pages: 207–216
DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2017.1283366
Author(s): Johann H van NiekerkDepartment of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Science, South Africa


Uniparental care often means that males do not contribute to the wellbeing of their offspring. For this reason, little attention has been given to avian species where the absent male contributes indirectly to the wellbeing of his chicks. This paper expands our understanding of parental care by analysing the uniparental system of Swainson’s Spurfowl Pternistis swainsonii. Field observations were conducted from January 1980 to May 2016 along a transect on maize farms south-east of Johannesburg and in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve (Gauteng province) as well as on the farm La Boheme and in the Borakalalo National Park (North West province) in South Africa. South-east of Johannesburg, uniparental care releases the male to maintain a breeding territory with temporary resources used by females and offspring during a critical period. However, uniparental care could also provide territorial males the opportunity to attract and court multiple females from their elevated perches.

Get new issue alerts for Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology