Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Orange River Francolin (Scleroptila gutturalis)


French: Francolin d’Archer German: Archerfrankolin Spanish: Francolín del Orange

Perdix gutturalis


, 1835,

Halai, Aksum and Temben in Tigray, Ethiopia


Specific name often given as “levaillantoides” (e.g. in HBW), but gutturalis has priority; also, original spelling of former, levalliantoides, cannot be emended owing to lack of internal evidence#R. Nominate gutturalis has been treated as a distinct species from other races, in view of black on postocular area, malar, neck-sides and lower throat reduced to series of light spots (2), breast mainly rufous-chestnut, paler and relatively complete, and with pale grey fringes vs broad chestnut and buff (or stone-white) streaking (2), and long, narrow but bold black streaks on underparts (1); race lorti (geographically adjacent to gutturalis) is less distinct from geographically distant taxa in SW Africa than it is from gutturalis. Other proposed races include: eritreae, included in nominate; archeri, stantoni and friedmanni in lorti; and cunenensis and stresemanni in jugularis; gariepensis (Lesotho) is a synonym of levalliantoides, which also includes pallidior, ludwigi, wattii, langi and kalaharica. Four subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. g. gutturalis (Rüppell, 1835) – Rüppell's Francolin – Eritrea and N Ethiopia.
  • S. g. lorti (Sharpe, 1897) – Archer's Francolin – South Sudan E through S Ethiopia to N Somalia, and S to NE Uganda; also recorded in NW Kenya.
  • S. g. jugularis (Büttikofer, 1889) – SW Angola and N Namibia.
  • S. g. levalliantoides (A. Smith, 1836) – Orange River Francolin – E Namibia, Botswana, NC South Africa and Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 32–35 cm; male 340–538 g, female 379–450 g. Large rufous patch in wing is visible in flight. Sexes similar, but male has single, longer spur. Irides... read more


    Repertoire includes seven vocal and one mechanical sound. Male’s advertising call is similar... read more


    Occurs in wide range of grassland and woodland habitats, ranging from boulder-strewn grassy... read more

    Food and feeding

    Bulbs and corms, fallen seeds and fruits, and insects, such as bugs, grasshoppers and beetles. Recorded in parties of up to 10–12... read more


    Lays in Feb–May and Sept–Oct in Transvaal, but recorded in all months in S Africa; Jun in Namibia; Apr, Aug and Dec in Angola;... read more


    Sedentary, although local movements (c. 10 km) are strongly suspected in parts of South Africa,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Very widespread species occurring in suitable habitat throughout c. 997,000 km². Fairly common in S Ethiopia (... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Orange River Francolin (Scleroptila gutturalis). 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).