Research Article

Coalition formation, mate selection and pairing behaviour of the Crested Francolin

Published in: Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology
Volume 89, issue 1, 2018 , pages: 71–78
DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2017.1409289
Author(s): Johann H van NiekerkDepartment of Environmental Sciences, South Africa

Abstract

Transect field observations were conducted on the behaviour of Crested Francolin Dendroperdix sephaena to describe male coalitions in the Borakalalo National Park, North West province, South Africa during May, August, October and December 2008, and again in July 2009. Crested Francolin form male coalitions following the breeding season in May. Young males leave their natal coveys and join old males in these coalitions, which are not based on kinship and consist of up to nine members. These coalitions are joined by a young female from June to October, followed by the breeding season when pairs replace coalitions. The coalition is a prelude to successful mating. The single female calls in the coalition, which triggers a cacophony, and her presence often erupts in physical conflicts between males. This cacophony is interpreted as signal jamming where males prevent one another from forming a duet with the female, clearly showing competition between them for winning over the female for mating. A well-synchronised duet forms the basis of pair formation. Old females are not particularly selected for pairing. The coalition is also a surrogate covey for young males because it optimises predator surveillance. The pair bond also optimises predator surveillance for each other throughout the year.

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