Within the mix of mostly cryptically plumaged smaller bustards, originally described by early Dutch settlers as ‘knorhaans’ or ‘snoring chickens’, in deference to their harsh ‘rasping’ contact calls’, the two Black Korhaan species of similar appearance and behavioural characteristics, are especially striking.
The males are both magnificent in their ‘black and white’ adult colouration, looking rather like men dressed in their formal dinner jackets! In contrast the females are far duller.
Viewed while parading about in low vegetation or calling raucously from a conspicuous territorial viewpoint, the male birds appear almost indistinguishable from one another until they take to the wing in vocal display flight, at which point the underwing colouration of the primary feathers provides the definitive form of identification.
While the ‘fynbos’ loving Southern Black Korhaan of the South Western Cape has a relatively dark and obviously dull underwing colouration, the Northern or White-quilled Korhaan, as it is now described, frequents open grassland within the central interior and arid west of Southern Africa, and has a contrasting black and white underwing easily observed in flight as the key distinguishing feature between the two species.