Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Hildebrandt's Francolin (Pternistis hildebrandti)


French: Francolin de Hildebrandt German: Hildebrandtfrankolin Spanish: Francolín de Hildebrandt
Other common names: Hildebrandt's Spurfowl

Francolinus Hildebrandti


, 1878,

Voi, Taita district, Kenya


Has at times been placed in genus Chaetopus or in Notocolinus; latter name may alternatively represent a valid subgenus for this species, P. adspersus, P. capensis and P. natalensis#R. Hybridizes occasionally with P. natalensis. Geographical variation mainly clinal, and not well marked (most distinctive in females), but differences between various forms poorly understood#R; race altumi was named and described solely on the basis of two male birds#R; review required. Here, the species is divided into three races, treating helleri (N Kenya) and fischeri (Wembere Steppe, in NC Tanzania) as synonyms of nominate, and lindi and grotei (respectively from Lindi and Mikandani, both in SE Tanzania) as synonyms of johnstoni. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. h. altumi (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) – W Kenya.
  • P. h. hildebrandti (Cabanis, 1878) – C & SE Kenya and N & W Tanzania S to SE DRCongo and NE Zambia.
  • P. h. johnstoni (Shelley, 1894) – SE Tanzania, extreme N Mozambique and Malawi (S to Mt Mulanje).
  • Introduced on Bwejuu I, near Mafia, Tanzania.

    Descriptive notes

    c. 34–41 cm; two males 600 g and 645 g, two females 430 g and 480 g. Throat, neck and underparts whitish profusely spotted black, most distinct on lower breast and... read more


    Territorial call a series of fairly high-pitched grating cackles, typically starting as single... read more


    Open habitats with scattered cover, mainly between 2000 m and 2500 m, but locally down to 650 m in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Bulbs, tubers and seeds; also insects and their larvae. Forages in pairs or small coveys (presumably family groups).


    Lays in most months according to locality: Jun–Sept in Zambia; Apr–Nov (peak Jun–Jul) in Malawi; Jan, Mar, May–Aug... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Occurs in suitable habitat throughout c. 900,000 km². In general, very locally distributed and uncommon;... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Hildebrandt's Francolin (Pternistis hildebrandti). 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 12 December 2019).