Family Bustards (Otididae)

Least Concern

Northern Black Bustard (Afrotis afraoides)


French: Outarde à miroir blanc German: Weißflügeltrappe Spanish: Sisón negro aliclaro
Other common names: Northern Black Korhaan, White-quilled Bustard

Otis Afraoïdes

A. Smith

, 1831,

flats near the Orange River


Forms a species pair with A. afra, with which often considered conspecific, but distinct on account of mainly white vs all-black primaries in both sexes (3); much more regular, even barring above extending onto tail (only vague and highly spaced in afra), with female afraoides showing mix of bars and blotches like male afra and female afra showing no obvious barring at all, and appearing darker than female afraoides, i.e. buff on black vs black on buff (3); female afraoides narrowly barred black on rufous-buff on breast shading to buffy-cream mid-belly patch vs female afra densely and regularly barred black-and-whitish shading to whitish mid-belly patch (2); narrow hybrid zone in valley of Great Fish R, Eastern Cape (2). Proposed races mababiensis (NW Botswana) and kalaharica (Kalahari Desert) nowadays included in etoschae and damarensis respectively; chiversi, boehmeri and leucoptera are all synonym of nominate. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. etoschae (Grote, 1922) – NW Namibia and N Botswana
  • A. a. damarensis Roberts, 1926 – Namibia and C Botswana.
  • A. a. afraoides (A. Smith, 1831) – SE Botswana through N & NE South Africa to Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    50 cm; 700 g. Very similar to A. afra, but much white in primaries, conspicuous in flight. Female is browner than male Head and more mottled on upperparts,... read more


    The male gives a raucous 'kerrak kerrak kerrak' both in flight and on the ground.


    Flat grassland with grass 50–100 cm high, open shrub veld, semi-desert scrub, grassy dunes... read more

    Food and feeding

    Wide variety of plant and animal material, with latter taken twice as frequently. Diet dominated by Isoptera (particularly in May–Jun... read more


    Most of year in Transvaal, where recorded Sept–Apr and Jul; elsewhere, records fall within the Sept–Apr period, although males... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. The population is thought to be stable in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Generally common throughout its... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Northern Black Bustard (Afrotis afraoides). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).