The 'grassland francolins' (genus Scleroptila),
which include the Orange River,
Grey-winged, Red-winged and
Shelley's francolins, are quite similar to one another. Shelley's francolin can
be distinguished by the black-and-white patterning on the lower breast and
belly, which contrasts with the chestnut and buff patterned upper breast. In
addition, it differs from the Grey-winged francolin in having a white, not
Male and female have the same plumage. Male can be
distinguised by having tarsal spurs.
Distribution and habitat
Distributed through NE regions of southern Africa, extending north into East
Africa. Found in savanna and woodland, particularly where there is rocky
Corms, bulbs, seeds and grains; insects in summer.
Nest consists of a scape in the ground, lined with
grass and roots and placed among grass or bushes.
Breeding season (laying dates)
Zimbabwe: August to June (peak September - October;
March to April)
South Africa: peak October to January.
After the 3-8 eggs have been laid, they are incubated
by the female for 20-22 days.
Chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and after 12
days are able to fly short distances, and after 5 weeks they can fly
Too frequent burning (i.e. annual burning) in regions such
as Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, results in the grassland becoming degregated and
unsuitable for their survival. Burning during the breeding season results in
destruction of nests and chicks through being burnt up or through being exposed
to destruction by hail storms.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.
Sinclair, I, Hockey, P. and Tarboton, W. 2002. Sasol
Birds of Southern Africa. 3rd edition. Struik, Cape Town.
Text by Hamish Robertson
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