Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Whyte’s Francolin (Scleroptila whytei)


French: Francolin de Whyte German: Whytefrankolin Spanish: Francolín de Whyte

Francolinus whytei


, 1908,

Nyika Plateau, 7000–8000 ft [c. 2130–2440 m], Malawi


Hitherto treated as a race of S. shelleyi, but differs in largely buff face and neck vs white on lores, neck-sides and throat, and white postocular streak (2); irregular dark spots from (a) area between cap and supercilium to posterior neck-sides and (b) commissure under eye and ear-coverts onto neck-sides (mixing with line a) and lower throat vs broken black lines bordering cap and from commissure, former meeting mantle, latter meeting white-spotted black lower throatband, with pale tan ear-coverts and area above upper black line (2); much more densely and regularly barred belly shading to dull blackish-grey lower belly and undertail-coverts vs boldly mottled/scalloped (batwing-patterned) belly shading to buff-and-pale-brown-barred lower belly and undertail-coverts (3); cap mainly plain grey-brown vs blackish with pale tan scales (ns[2]); wing-coverts and tail plainer, greyer, less clearly barred, coverts with distinct pale rufous tinge (ns[1-2]). Monotypic.


SE DRCongo, N Zambia and N Malawi.

Descriptive notes

c. 33–34 cm. Crown mainly plain grey-brown, supercilium, face, neck and throat buff, a line of irregular dark spots from area between cap and supercilium to posterior neck-... read more


No differences known between this species and S. shelleyi.


Montane and hilly grasslands and open miombo and mopane woodland; to 2000 m on Nyika Plateau, in N... read more

Food and feeding

Probably feeds mainly on roots and bulbs. Generally in pairs or family parties.


Few known differences between this species and S. shelleyi. Records of eggs in Zambia span the period Feb–Dec and in Malawi... read more


Presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population not quantified, but species reported as being generally common to locally rare, with records being sparse in N... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Whyte’s Francolin (Scleroptila whytei). 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 16 December 2019).