Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Red-necked Francolin (Pternistis afer)


French: Francolin à gorge rouge German: Rotkehlfrankolin Spanish: Francolín gorjirrojo
Other common names: Red-necked Spurfowl, Cranch's Francolin (cranchii)

Tetrao afer

Statius Müller

, 1776,

Benguela, Angola


Commonly thought to be close to P. leucoscepus, P. rufopictus and P. swainsonii. In one study this species appeared to be close to P. leucoscepus#R; in another, genetic evidence suggested that it and P. swainsonii are each other’s closest relatives, although the other two species (P. leucoscepus, P. rufopictus) were not sampled#R. Race swynnertoni of present species hybridizes with P. swainsonii near Harare, in NE Zimbabwe. Race cranchii (with leucoparaeus and harterti) has sometimes been separated as a distinct species, but there appear to be multiple areas where cranchii interbreeds with (or, through intermediate subspecies, grades into) the strongly black-and-white subspecies of present species, such that species status appears impractical. Race loangwae sometimes subsumed within melanogaster. Many other races have been described, but doubtfully valid: chio, palliditectus and cunenensis included in nominate afer; krebsi, notatus and lehmanni subsumed within castaneiventer; aylwinae, tertius and tornowi included in melanogaster; punctulatus, boehmi, mackenziei, benguellensis, intercedens, nyanzae and itigi synonymized with cranchii; and humboldtii included in swynnertoni. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. cranchii (Leach, 1818) – W Congo E to E Africa (around L Victoria), and S to N & E Angola, NE Zambia and N Malawi.
  • P. a. afer (Statius Müller, 1776) – W Angola (N to S Huambo) and extreme NW Namibia.
  • P. a. harterti Reichenow, 1909 – E DRCongo, Rwanda, Burundi (around N shore of L Tanganyika in Ruzizi Valley) and W Tanzania.
  • P. a. leucoparaeus (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) – SE Kenya (S from R Tana) to Tanzanian border.
  • P. a. loangwae C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1934 – E Zambia and Malawi.
  • P. a. melanogaster Neumann, 1898 – E Tanzania to NE Zambia and N Mozambique (N of R Zambezi).
  • P. a. swynnertoni W. L. Sclater, 1921 – E Zimbabwe and S Mozambique (S of R Zambezi).
  • P. a. castaneiventer Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – South Africa from S & E Western Cape Province E to R Limpopo.
  • Introduced to Ascension I (S Atlantic).

    Descriptive notes

    c. 25–38 cm (much racial variation); male 480–1000 g, female 370–690 g. Distinctive scarlet throat and facial skin and red bill and legs separate present... read more


    Calls from ground or elevated perch such as termite mound. Voice considered similar to that of ... read more


    Wide range of brushy habitats, varying according to locality, but generally avoids dense mature... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet varies with season and locality: in DRCongo, mainly small tubers; in S Africa, mostly vegetable matter (tubers, roots and bulbs,... read more


    Mostly lays late in rains, with chicks emerging amongst dense cover of early dry season: lays cool dry season, Apr–Aug, in E South... read more


    Sedentary. Home ranges in South Africa were 10–15·5 ha (two males) or 4–8 ha (... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Occurs in suitable habitat throughout c. 4,560,000 km². Generally common to abundant, with densities of 34... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Red-necked Francolin (Pternistis afer). 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).