Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Crested Francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena)


French: Francolin huppé German: Schopffrankolin Spanish: Francolín capirotado

Perdix Sephaena

A. Smith

, 1836,

Marico River and Limpopo River, western Transvaal, South Africa


Following recent reorganization of Francolinus#R#R, present species was initially placed in a subgenus within genus Peliperdix; subsequently, Dendroperdix was elevated to full genus status#R. Believed to hybridize extensively with Pternistis swainsonii in Limpopo Province of N South Africa#R. Race rovuma has been considered a separate species, but differences from others are rather few and not great (underparts sparsely but entirely spotted, whereas spotting in other taxa stops at breast); it hybridizes extensively with spilogaster in Kenya, a tendency sometimes attributed to anthropogenic habitat loss. Additional proposed races are somaliensis (here included in spilogaster), schoanus, ochrogaster and delutescens (synonymized with grantii), jubaensis (subsumed within rovuma), thompsoni, chobiensis and mababiensis (in zambesiae) and zuluensis (in nominate). Some uncertainty about ranges of different races in Horn of Africa, with division between spilogaster and grantii in Ethiopia not known, and some suggestions that in Somalia grantii or rovuma or both may occur, whereas others place all Somalian populations in resurrected race somaliensis#R. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. s. spilogaster (Salvadori, 1888) – E Ethiopia, Somalia and NE Kenya.
  • D. s. rovuma (G. R. Gray, 1867) – Kirk's Francolin – Kenyan coast S to N Mozambique and S Malawi.
  • D. s. grantii (Hartlaub, 1866) – S South Sudan and W Ethiopia S to NC Tanzania.
  • D. s. zambesiae (Mackworth-Praed, 1920) – SW Angola and N Namibia E to WC Mozambique; probably this race in S Malawi (Lengwe)#R.
  • D. s. sephaena (A. Smith, 1836) – Crested Francolin – SE Botswana, S Zimbabwe, S Mozambique and NE South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    30–35 cm; male 270–417 g, female 220–375 g. Chestnut blotching on neck and breast, black bill, red legs, white supercilium and dark brown crown distinctive... read more


    Eight different vocalizations have been identified. Territorial call a repeated rhythmic short and... read more


    Variety of brushland habitats with sparse ground cover including dense bushes along rivers, ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Termites, other insects and their larvae (c. 32% by volume in E African study), sedge bulbs (c. 16%) seeds (mainly Commelina sp.)... read more


    Lays Oct–May (mainly Oct–Nov) in South Africa; Dec–Mar in Zimbabwe; Jun–Jul in Mozambique but Nov in Malawi; Oct... read more


    Sedentary. Escapes by running in areas with little vegetation, but will flee mammalian predator by... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. One of Africa’s most widespread francolins, occurring in suitable habitat throughout an area of nearly 3,350,... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Crested Francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena). 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 10 December 2019).