Endemic to southern Africa, mainly in South Africa while
largely excluding the Northern Cape and Limpopo Province, with a small, isolated
population at Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. It generally prefers
open grassland, dwarf shrubland and cultivated land.
Largely resident, although in winter it moves
from the cold, high-lying plateau of South Africa to the warmer savanna areas of
Mpumalanga and adjacent provinces.
Omnivorous, eating a wide variety of plant matter, insects,
other invertebrates and small vertebrates, doing most of its foraging by
pecking the ground or digging with its bill. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:
Egg-laying season is from August-April, peaking from October-December.
It lays 1-2, usually two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about
The chicks leave the nest about 12 hours after hatching, at which the
point the adults lead them away to teach them to forage. The siblings are
extremely aggressive to each other at first, although lessening in intensity
when they start to find food for themselves at about 15 days old. They take
their first flight at about 12 weeks old, becoming fully independent
approximately two months later.
Vulnerable, partly due to widespread decreases in
the grassland biome largely caused by poisoning, as well as overgrazing and
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of
southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book
Fund, Cape Town.