Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Near Threatened

Moorland Francolin (Scleroptila psilolaema)


French: Francolin montagnard German: Hochlandfrankolin Spanish: Francolín etíope

Francolinus psilolaemus

G. R. Gray

, 1867,

Shoa, Ethiopia


Usually treated as conspecific with S. elgonensis, which here treated as species due to plain off-white vs black-spotted off-white throat, bordered below by white-spotted black throatband vs no throatband (3); breast rufous with full black spots vs buffy with vague black half-spots (2); belly chestnut intermixed with grey vs creamy buff with chestnut crescents and chocolate-brown Vs (3); mantle black-spotted rufous-chestnut vs as on rest of upperparts (ns[2]); blackish of upperparts generally more intense and extensive, thus narrowing the buff barring, notably on wings (ns[2]). Has been considered conspecific with S. afra. Proposed race ellenbecki (SC Ethiopia) of doubtful validity. Monotypic.


Mountains of C & S Ethiopia (Shewa, Arussi, Bale and Sidamo).

Descriptive notes

c. 32–35 cm; two males 510 g and 530 g, two females 370 g and 510 g. Only red-winged francolin with black bars at tips of primaries; S birds larger, with richer... read more


Advertising call a series of four unhurried notes, frequently repeated, “tirich-chi-che’e”, similar... read more


Confined to montane Erica moorland and grassland at 2420–3800 m, mostly above 2400 m. read more

Food and feeding

Diet undescribed; believed likely to be dominated by bulbs and roots. Forages in damp grassy areas and sedges around pools, usually in... read more


Very few data, with the only record of eggs being in Oct. No further information, although the species’ biology is presumably similar... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Occurs in suitable habitat in area no larger than 47,000 km2. Stated as being locally frequent to common, but... read more

Recommended citation

McGowan, P.J.K., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Moorland Francolin (Scleroptila psilolaema). 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).