Other Names: Black Partridge, Indian Francolin
Range: Southern Asia, from Cyprus and the Caspian region east through India; once found in southern Europe west into Spain, has now been re-established in central Italy. Has been introduced and established on four of the Hawaiian Islands and Guam. Has also been introduced into Louisiana and southern Florida, but their numbers are very low.
Subspecies: Six according to Johnsgard: Francolinus francolinus francolinus, F. f. arabistanicus, F. f. henrici, F. f. asiae, F. f. bogdanovi, & F. f. melanonotus. It is believed that the subspecies kept in American aviaies is the asiae which is native to western India.
Habitat: Varied, prefers areas of thick vegetation, usually near water.
Description: Black Francolin are rare among most Francolinus species in that there is pronounced sexual dimorphism. The males have black faces, chin and breast separated by a chestnut collar; white cheek patches are the most noted feature, these oval-like patches are behind and slightly below the eye. The back mottled brown, sides barred with white; bill black, legs reddish brown with a small spur that develops with age. Females are brown with black and white barring; the most noted feature is the rust colored half-collar on the napeolor is found mainly on the back of the neck.
Status in Wild: As mentioned, the Black Francolin once had a broad range from Spain east to India, now has been eliminated from most of Europe and is threatened in Russia and in Cyprus. The status in Asia has not been well documented. Where it has been introduced on Hawaii, it is now thriving and is a game species; the status in Louisiana and Florida is not known at this time.
Status in Aviculture: Common.
Breeding Season: April to June.
Clutch Size: 8 to 12;
Incubation Period: 18 to 19 days.
Misc. Aviculture Notes: Can have a loud call during the breeding season. Males may also become aggressive during the breeding season, make sure there is plenty of cover and escape routes for the hen and it maybe necessary to house her seperate and allow limited access for breeding only. They are generally monogamous in the wild and it is best to house only pair per aviary.
Tend to be skittish and easily spooked in an aviary, you can reduce the risk of injury by trimming a wing to prevent them from crashing into the mesh. Well planted aviaries with little surrounding traffic would be best for breeding. They are fairly winter hardy, but always provide some shelter during the coldest months.
Enjoy live food such as mealworms and waxworms, but be careful when feeding to chicks as they are prone to toe-picking.
Visitor Submitted Notes: The following has been provided by Carl Garnham:
Black francolin in captivity in Europe are reasonably free-breeders as new blood appears from time to time courtesy of the Asian community. Within northern India, Kashmir and Pakistan (and elsewhere?), the species is hand-reared from chicks as the males in particular are a traditional household pet and some people carry-on that tradition outside of Asia. The birds become as tame as any cat or dog. The precise reason for the tradition I have yet to discover, but I am assured that the males speak the language which language I dont know but all of the many Asian people I have met that keep them have been Muslims so it is probably Arabic or Urdu, or ..
The birds, both sexes, are stunningly beautiful and produce very unusual eggs very rounded, khaki or coffee-coloured with small white spots mostly at the blunt end. They also have very odd feet they are tiny for a gamebird. Although the books say they have no spurs, the males do grow very blunt ones, very slowly not worthy of the name until the bird is around 3 years old. I suspect that only pairs would be successful once the breeding season arrives.
Pairs are generally very well behaved I have never heard of anyone experiencing any problems with adult pairs, even in very bare aviaries down to 40 square feet (4 square metres) or so. I have never found any particular problems with chicks although I have never used lights/IR bulbs to rear any gamebird. Many birds remain very wary in aviaries but I have tamed even very old and flighty birds by feeding tit-bits such as peanuts or livefood. They eat very little green-food.
The call of the males that endears them to my Muslim friends is a loud, harsh screech kweee-kweeeeee, kweee, usually repeated and produced from once the birds are around 12 weeks old or so.
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(l to r): 1-2, Dan Cowell.
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