Red-winged Francolin (Scleroptila levaillantii)

It is a medium-sized, elegantly-patterned francolin with distinctive, intricate head patterns. The large reddish-brown patches on its wings are conspicuous during flight. This shy and timid thrives on the ground on locations with dense grass, such as cultivated lands, grasslands, and open savannas. It produces a to its noisy, low-key, and repetitive call but may also create an intense alarm call, a rapid, chiding “chak-chak-chak.”

Read further to know more about the Red-winged Francolin.

What is a Red-winged Francolin?

Red-winged Francolin (Scleroptila levaillantii) is a bird species belonging to the Phasianidae family, consisting of other heavy, ground-living birds, such as partridges, pheasants, turkeys, chickens, junglefowl, and many renowned game birds.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Galliformes

Family: Phasianidae

Genus: Scleroptila

Species: S. levaillantii

Red-winged Francolin Physical Description

Red-winged Francolins are often considered the largest francolins found in Southern Africa, growing up to 13.7 inches or 35 centimeters and weighing about 430 grams. Both sexes look similar, sporting off white and brick red-speckled bellies and breasts, cryptically-colored upperwings and back, whitish throat with reddish-brown edges, and a conspicuous black-and-white necklace.

Where can they be spotted?

Red-winged Francolin prefers level or mildly sloping mountainous grasslands, high-altitude mountain shrublands, or grasslands dense with Themeda triandra grass. They occur in Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Lesotho, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Red-winged Francolin

Red-winged Francolins primarily feed on underground corms or bulbs, such as Moraea, Hypoxis, Rhodohypoxis, Gladiolus, and Hesperantha. Insects become a significant part of their diet during the summer and breeding season.

Often, the birds are susceptible to blood parasites, Leucocytozoon macleani, Trypanosoma avium, and microfilariae.

These birds often occur in small groups of 4-8 birds near marshy areas vleis. They are monogamous and will form strong bonds with their partners but also territorial and solitary nesters. Breeding seasons vary depending on the range. It peaks during midsummer in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, while it rises in October in the Western Cape.

Red-winged Francolins’ nests are built on a shallow depression on the ground, lined with grass, placed among tufts of grass. These birds favor nesting along wetland edges on grasses that have not burnt for around 2-3 years.

The female red-winged francolin will lay a clutch of around 4 to 10 eggs, which she will incubate for about 22 days. Their broods are precocial and will leave the nest soon once hatched.

In certain regions, the suitable habitat for red-winged francolins has declined due to frequent burning and overgrazing, forcing them to become extinct in some former range. Despite this, they have not reached a more at risk evaluation and are classified under Least Concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List.



Addo Elephant National Park

Knysna Lagoon


Redwing Francolin