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03 Mar, 2024
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Frank & Lyn

FRANK & LYN!!! – Article by Gareth Jones

The Tale Of Frank & Lyn!

Lyn waited patiently as a new day dawned. It had been a very lonely night as Frank did not come home. Lyn became increasingly concerned at sunrise, and she began to search the area where she last saw him, and began to call out repeatedly in the hope that he would respond “Kreaak…Kreaak…Kreaak”. Lyn stopped and listened, but there was no reply. Sadly, she retreated into a thick shrub, for protection from possible predators who might enjoy eating her for breakfast. Then a few minutes later Lyn heard Frank’s unmistakable rusty sounding personal call “Kreeaaak…Kreeaaak…Kreeaaak!!!”. Wow, what a joyful moment of reunion. Lyn ran to be with Frank, she really seemed to be in a bit of a flap, and immediately asked him why he didn’t return the previous night. Frank then told her a scary story of how he very nearly became a Serval cat’s dinner, he even had a few feathers missing to remind himself of the narrow escape. Frank & Lyn were both relieved to once again be together, to face another day in the unpredictable bushveld. Their experience of surviving various predator encounters had drawn them closer together. Plus, Lyn had recently laid three eggs in the hope of having some fluffy chicks in the near future. Well, it is always good to imagine what sort of life some creatures like Francolins might be living.

Some years ago, I came up with the name “Frank & Lyn” when observing various pairs of yellow-necked francolins in the Nairobi National Park. It appears that male & female francolins do pair for life. The name “Frank & Lyn” kind of sounds like the names of a happily married couple.

It has been noted, that yellow necked francolins are most active at dawn and dusk. The bird is also noted to be very adaptable, it can continue to live in land after agriculture begins, it only leaves the land when heavy human occupation begins.

The call of a yellow-necked spurfowl is a series of scratchy descending upslurs, up to seven in a series. Male yellow-necked spurfowl often call while standing on top of mounds of earth or rock; often termite mounds.

On a more formal note, the yellow-necked spurfowl or yellow-necked francolin (Pternistis leucoscepus) is a species of  bird in the family Phasianidae. Their range in Kenya overlaps with that of the red-necked francolin (spurfowl). There are two known sub-species in Kenya. It is the sub species P. l. infuscatus discovered in 1868 by Jean Louis Cabanis a German ornithologist, these birds are found over a wide area ranging from north Somalia and Djibouti south through Ethiopia, east South Sudan, south Somalia, northeast Uganda, Kenya and north central Tanzania. The lesser known sub-species is found in Ethiopia.

This species is named for the yellow patch found on its neck. Males of this species have been noted to have spurs on the back of their legs, that they use for fighting. This species is a large brown francolin with yellow bare skin on the throat and red bare skin around the eyes. The bill and legs are black. Pale patches in the outer wings are conspicuous in flight. Found in a variety of fairly arid savanna habitats and in adjacent agricultural fields. Usually in pairs or small groups. Easily separated from other francolins by its bare yellow throat. The call is a fading series of rough “kreaaak” sounding notes.

The yellow-necked spurfowl is not in the threshold for vulnerable species despite the fact that its population is thought to be in decline. The primary threat to the species is over-hunting. Yellow-necked spurfowls begin hunting for food at dawn; they are also active at dusk. The yellow-necked spurfowl is a game bird. Hunting of it is regulated, however, it is also a target of poachers. They are also hunted by predators like serval, jackal, and various raptors in the wild. Yellow-necked spurfowls forage for insects in dirt or in large herbivore dung. Insects found along roads or on cultivated land are their preferred meal. Little is known about the breeding habits of yellow-necked spurfowls, other than that their breeding seasons vary widely depending on geographic area. In Kenya, the yellow-necked francolin (spurfowl) prefer bushed grasslands and scrublands near water and cultivated land.

Yes, next time you are in the wild and you see a pair of yellow-necked francolins, just think of “Frank & Lyn”!


Gareth Jones –  A passionate writer & photographer