Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Cape Francolin (Pternistis capensis)


French: Francolin criard German: Kapfrankolin Spanish: Francolín de El Cabo
Other common names: Cape Spurfowl

Tetrao capensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Has been included in genus Notocolinus, which name may alternatively represent a valid subgenus for this species, P. adspersus, P. natalensis and P. hildebrandti#R. Within the francolins, present species was found to share certain syringeal characteristics only with P. natalensis#R. Monotypic.


S Namibia and South Africa, with small population on lower Orange R (W Northern Cape) isolated from main range of Western Cape E to SW Eastern Cape).

Introduced on Robben I, off Cape Town.

Descriptive notes

40–43 cm; male 600–915 g, female 435–659 g. Rather dark overall, with distinctive pattern of white streaks and vermiculations; only likely to be confused... read more


Male advertising call, given mainly early morning and late afternoon, is a loud crowing or cackling... read more


Inhabits scrub vegetation including scrubby heath, fynbos, rocky outcrops and sheltered riverine... read more

Food and feeding

Bulbs and corms, seeds, berries and shoots; also small molluscs, termites, ants and other insects. Has favoured drinking sites.


Lays Jul–Feb, with peak in Sept–Oct, late in winter rains or early in dry summer. Probably monogamous. Nest a hollow lined with... read more


Sedentary. Flies only when hard pressed, preferring to escape by running.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Occurs in suitable habitat throughout c. 222,000 km². Locally common; numbers believed to be stable. Occurs in... read more

Recommended citation

McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Cape Francolin (Pternistis capensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).