Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Natal Francolin (Pternistis natalensis)


French: Francolin du Natal German: Natalfrankolin Spanish: Francolín de Natal
Other common names: Natal Spurfowl

Francolinus Natalensis

A. Smith

, 1833,

Durban, Natal, South Africa


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. hildebrandti#R. Within the francolins, present species was found to share certain syringeal characteristics only with P. capensis#R. Hybridizes with P. swainsonii in SW Zimbabwe; occasional hybridization with P. hildebrandti has been reported, as well as with P. adspersus in captivity#R. Geographical variation is rather small and poorly defined, and also clinal, its assessment further complicated by individual variation; form thamnobium (used for paler birds from drier areas in E of range) is considered untenable; this species is perhaps better treated as monotypic#R. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. n. neavei (Mackworth-Praed, 1920) – S & E Zambia, W Mozambique and NW Zimbabwe.
  • P. n. natalensis (A. Smith, 1833) – Zimbabwe (except NW) and E Botswana S to Swaziland and E South Africa (to North West, W Free State and E Eastern Cape Provinces).
  • Descriptive notes

    30–38 cm; male 415–723 g, female 370–482 g. Head dark grey-brown with paler feather fringes and tips, blackish patch around eye, whitish underparts closely... read more


    Most vocal early morning and late afternoon. Territorial call a repeated loud harsh phrase of 3–4... read more


    Usually occurs in habitats with some cover from sea-level up to 1800 m, including hillsides... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small bulbs and roots, cowpeas, berries and seeds, including grain; also beetles, termites, grasshoppers and caterpillars. Forages on... read more


    Probably breeds in late rains and winter across range as a whole; nesting unpredictable, usually Jan–Feb and Apr–Jul in South... read more


    Sedentary. Active early morning and late afternoon, moving to cover during midday heat. Slow flier... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Occurs in suitable habitat throughout area of more than 1,000,000 km². Considered generally abundant, or... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Natal Francolin (Pternistis natalensis). 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).