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Relationship between breeding activity and rainfall for Swainson's Spurfowl, Pternistis swainsonii, within southern Africa, with specific reference to the Springbok Flats, Limpopo Province, South Africa

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We collated the literature available on the breeding activity of the Swainson's Spurfowl Pternistis swainsonii and made use of reliable unpublished reports, nest record cards and field observations within the Springbok Flats, Limpopo Province, South Africa to establish breeding seasons and pairing behaviour. The onset of breeding (egg laying) is closely associated with rainfall, with male gonad development, population density and covey size (pairing behaviour), all correlated with rainfall. Peak breeding activity is from January–April in South Africa, February–May in Zimbabwe and March–June in Botswana. Egg laying has been recorded in all months and sporadic egg laying in the winter months is most likely the result of isolated rainfall. Mean clutch size is 5.2 eggs/hen (n = 140) with an incubation period of 23 days and brood hatching success and chick survival of 69.4% over the southern African sub-region. Current hunting seasons within Limpopo Province are in line with the recommended hunting season for this region and should remain unchanged: 15 June–30 September. The success of this phasianid can be attributed to its extended breeding season, high survival rate of hatchlings and the potential of birds to breed within their first year.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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