Harwood’s francolin (Francolinus harwoodi)

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Harwood's francolin on a rock
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Harwood’s francolin fact file

Harwood’s francolin description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderGalliformes
FamilyPhasianidae
GenusFrancolinus (1)

This rotund, ground-dwelling bird is found only in central and northwest Ethiopia. It has a dark, heavily streaked plumage, black and buff underparts, red, bare skin around the eyes and a conspicuous red bill (2) (3). The female Harwood’s francolin has slightly paler, browner underparts than the male (2). This vocal bird may also be identified by its loud, raucous, crowing ko-ree call, which is most often heard early in the morning and late in the afternoon (2) (3).

French
Francolin de Harwood.
Size
Length: 33 cm (2)
Male weight: 545 g (2)
Female weight: 446 g (2)
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Harwood’s francolin biology

Like other francolins, Harwoods’s francolin prefers to feed on seeds, although it will supplement this diet with a variety of other vegetation, such as tubers, berries and fruit, as well as termites (2) (4). The breeding season takes place between August and December, with a peak in breeding in September, and it is thought that between three and ten small, spotted eggs are laid. Harwood’s francolin is most likely a polygamous bird, with male birds mating with more than one partner during the breeding season (4) (5).

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Harwood’s francolin range

Harwood’s francolin is found in a relatively large area around the Blue Nile River and its tributaries in the highlands of central Ethiopia (2) (4).

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Harwood’s francolin habitat

Harwood’s francolin inhabits a number of natural and altered habitats including dense reed beds of bulrush (Typha), thorny scrub and open agricultural fields. While feeding, it is most often found in areas of bare, stony ground and sparse grasses and trees bordering vegetation that offers cover from predators. At other times, it typically roosts in dense bushes and grasses (4) (5).

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Harwood’s francolin status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Harwood’s francolin threats

The greatest threat facing Harwood’s francolin is habitat destruction. In central Ethiopia, an expanding human population is increasing the pressure on natural habitats, resulting in trees and bushes being cleared for agriculture and to provide wood for fuel and construction (2) (4) (6). Beds of bullrushes are annually burned so that farmers can plant cotton in the moist soil and to provide material for thatching, mats and fencing (4) (6). The loss of natural habitat has caused Harwood’s francolin to increasingly enter homesteads and agricultural lands where it is vulnerable to persecution and predators as much of its shelter has been removed in the area (4) (6). The threat of habitat loss is further compounded by hunting and this bird is killed for its flesh, which is prized for its flavour and apparent medicinal properties, while its eggs are also taken for food (4) (5) (6)

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Harwood’s francolin conservation

Due to the economic and dietary importance of this species to the local human population, the development of a community-based conservation programme is likely crucial for its survival. There is also a pressing need for awareness-raising projects highlighting the benefits of the conservation of this species and its habitat to the community. Other recommended conservation measures for this Vulnerable species include the implementation of a species action plan and legal protection against hunting and the collecting of eggs (4)

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on Harwood’s francolin see: 

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Authentication

Authenticated (10/07/10) by Mengistu Wondafrash, Executive Director, Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
http://www.ewnhs.org.et/

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Glossary

Polygamous
Mating with more than one partner in the same season.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World.  Vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl.  Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (September 2007)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/ebas/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=168&m=0
  4. Wondafrash, M. (2005) The Globally Threatened Harwood’s francolin Francolinus harwoodi: Range, Ecology, Threats and Conservation Measures. Project Terminal Report Submitted to Research Programme on Sustainable Use of Dryland Biodiversity (RPSUD). Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, Ethiopia.
  5. Fuller, R.A., Carroll, J.P. and McGowan, P.J.K. (2000) Partridges, Quails, Francolins, Snowcocks, Guineafowl, and Turkeys. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000–2004. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  6. EWNHS. (1996) The Conservation of Key Biodiversity Sites and the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) Project in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, Addis Ababa.
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Image credit

Harwood's francolin on a rock  
Harwood's francolin on a rock

© Nik Borrow

Nik Borrow
n.borrow@btinternet.com
http://web.mac.com/nikborrow

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