Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Scaly Francolin (Pternistis squamatus)


French: Francolin écaillé German: Schuppenfrankolin Spanish: Francolín escamoso
Other common names: Scaly Spurfowl

Francolinus squamatus


, 1857,

Cape Lopez, Gabon


Closely related to P. ahantensis and probably also to P. griseostriatus; these three have sometimes been separated in genus Squamatocolinus. Present species exhibits much variation, largely clinal but also individual, and at least some of the described races probably no more than clinal extremes; W populations are more reddish-tinged above and those in E dullest and darkest, with gradual intergradation between the two extremes#R. Proposed races tetraoninus (from W Ethiopia) and zappeyi (Uganda and W Kenya) included in schuetti; whitei (DRCongo) in nominate; and chyuluensis (from Chyulu Hills, in SE Kenya) in maranensis. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. s. squamatus (Cassin, 1857) – SC & SE Nigeria E to extreme SW and N DRCongo.
  • P. s. schuetti (Cabanis, 1880) – S South Sudan and W Ethiopia S to E DRCongo, Uganda and W & C Kenya.
  • P. s. maranensis (Mearns, 1910) – S & SE Kenya to N Tanzania.
  • P. s. usambarae (Conover, 1928) – NE Tanzania.
  • P. s. uzungwensis (Bangs & Loveridge, 1931) – SE Tanzania.
  • P. s. doni (Benson, 1939) – C Malawi (Mzuzu and South Viphya Plateau).
  • Recorded also in C & S DRCongo and WC Sudan.

    Descriptive notes

    c. 30–33 cm; male 372–565 g, female 377–515 g. A rather dark, heavily-streaked species; combination of forest habitat, uniformly dark plumage and lack of... read more


    Territorial call often a duet, one bird uttering a series of c. 12 harsh cackling “kerrrak” notes... read more


    Evergreen forest with dense undergrowth from 800 m to 3000 m, including forest clearings; various... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits and seeds and a variety of crop plants, including sweet potatoes and groundnuts; also takes small insects, including termites and... read more


    Lays in all months except Feb in E Africa; lays Oct–Dec in Ethiopia and S Cameroon; Oct–Mar in W Cameroon; Jun–Aug in... read more


    Sedentary. Prefers to sit tight rather than run if alarmed, but does fly up into trees.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Very widely distributed species occurring in suitable habitat throughout an area of c. 2,590,000 km². Locally... read more

    Recommended citation

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