Grey Francolin

(Francolinus pondicerianus)

Francolinus pondicerianus

Francolinus pondicerianus
Photo by Dan Cowell

Other Names: Hyderabadie Francolin, Grey Partridge

Range: Southeastern Iran and Pakistan, throughout India to Bangladesh, northern Sri Lanka. Has been introduced northern Oman, the Hawaiian Islands, several islands in the Indian Ocean including Seychelles and Mauritius. Attempts have been made in the USA, but it is doubtful there are any sustainable populations.

Subspecies: F. p. mecranensis, F. p. interpositus, F. p. pondicerianus.

Habitat: Grasslands and scrublands, also cultivated areas and near villiages.

Description: Sexes are similar with barred plumage; throat, cheeks and forehead is orange (pondicerianus), light orange-buff (interpositus) or white (mecranensis), all have dark border below neck; the breast and abdomen greyish-buff with dark barring; mantle and wings chestnut with light shaft-streaks and barring. Males maybe slightly larger and develop spurs. Immature birds lack the dark border patch on neck.

Status in Wild: Considered by many to be the most common game bird in southwestern Asia and India.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Most often referred to as Hyderbadie Francolin in US aviculture. Although established in American aviaries, I have found it difficult to find bloodlines that don’t trace back to one of four breeders.

Breeding Season: Varies by region and climate, from April to August.

Clutch Size: 6 to 9

Incubation Period: 21-23 days

Misc. Aviculture Notes: I have heard comments over the years that this species was extremely nervous and wary in the aviary, but after working a pair over the past year and a half, I found this to be just the opposite. Like most birds, they will be flighty and nervous when first introduced into a new aviary, but will calm down with aviary amenities and I have had them calm down enough to take food from my hand.

The hen begins a clutch of 4 to 9 buff eggs in April. Attentive parents when allowed to naturally rear their offspring, it is important that aviary walls are made with a mesh small enough to prevent the tiny chicks from getting through. As with all natural rearing, changes should be made to water and food dishes to ensure that the chicks have easy access and won’t drown. Artificial rearing can be pose some problems, particularly in getting the chicks to eat. When left natural, the parents show the chicks how to eat and I have seen the male hold a piece of boiled egg in his mouth and allowed the chicks to pick at it. A little tricky to imitate in a brooder, but can be done by using long tweezers or by placing mealworms in a dish. Another alternative is using a foster chick to show the young francolin how to eat. They are quite small, so use a non-aggressive species such as Chinese Painted (Button) Quail to help them out.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

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Photo Credits
(l to r): 1-3, Dan Cowell.

Bibliography and Further Reading


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