Willem’s Weekly Bird Photography blog (#11)

Week 11: Red crested korhaan (Boskorhaan)(Lophotis ruficrista)

A very common bird in the northern parts of South Africa this week – the Red-crested Korhaan.


Red crested korhaan

Red-crested Korhaan

Nikon D3S, Nikkor 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO 800, f4, 1/4000, exposure = 0, WB = sunlight, Aperture mode, 8 meters from bird

Mokala Nature Reserve, Northern Cape South Africa, November 2012



Red crested korhaan foraging

Red-crested Korhaan foraging

Nikon D3S, Nikkor 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO 1000, f4, 1/5000, exposure = -0.67, WB = sunlight, Aperture mode, 6 meters from bird

Mokala Nature Reserve, Northern Cape South Africa, November 2012


Still on my bucket list – getting an image of a male during his courtship with his red crest exposed.


Interesting facts:

The Red-crested korhaan is near-endemic to southern Africa, being uncommon to locally common in a range of woodland habitats. It is omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, especially termites, beetles and grasshoppers, and plant matter, especially seeds and fruit, foraging on the ground, picking up food items with its bill. http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/otitidae/lophotis_ruficrista.htm

All in an effort to advertise undisputed control over his territory and to attract the opposite sex as a result, the male starts vocalizing on the ground with an ascending piping call. All of a sudden and as the call reaches a crescendo it then flies vertically up into the sky. On reaching a certain height the korhaan merely folds its wings, and plummets back down towards terra firma, body seemingly prone – almost as if having been shot in mid-air. Shortly before hitting the ground, it opens its wings for a soft, elegant landing. Rather impressive and the reason it is sometimes called the suicide bird. http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/blog/posts/courtship-dance-of-red-crested-korhaan

Polygynous, with each male performing an elaborate courtship display to multiple females, some of which he will mate with. The male puts on a spectacular courtship display to multiple females, who solely incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. It lays 1-2 eggs directly on the ground often among dense leaf-litter, which are incubated solely by the female, for about 22 days, and little is known about the chicks



The distribution map http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/otitidae/lophotis_ruficrista.htm:

Red crested korhaan map


Until next week – keep an eye on the birds and keep on shooting.


  1. #1 by michaelsingeltonhaworth on June 7, 2014 - 9:00 am

    Willem, I am really enjoying your Weekly Bird Photography blog- it is really difficult to get a decent image of the Red-crested despite it being so common. They are very wary – great full body image.. Like you that courting display image remains elusive. I know it is just a matter of time with your skills.

  2. #2 by whk139 on June 7, 2014 - 9:23 am

    Thanks Mike, for the kind words – glad you are enjoying it as much as I do. Well, one needs to create to opportunity as well. I already witness the courtship once in Mokala but it was just too far for a decent photo. Maybe next time.

  3. #3 by ImageSelect on June 11, 2014 - 11:02 am

    That’s really good, fantastic photographs.. Bird photographers are often guilty of spending all of their time photographing the action and drama of birds in flight, and often skip the investment of the time required to create great portraits.

    Regards Tim

    • #4 by whk139 on June 11, 2014 - 1:18 pm

      Thanks Tim – yes sometimes it is necessary to sit back and review one’s approach to bird photography.

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