BLACK FRANCOLIN (Francolinus francolinus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Black Francolin is a game bird in the Pheasant family. The male has a black head with a brown crown, with a white patch below and behind the eye. The bill and eyes are black. The upper mandible is slightly downcurved to allow digging the soil. The breast is black with white spots on the sides. There is a cinnamon collar. The back and wings are brown and edged in white. The lower back and tail are striated black and white. The tail is short and round. The legs are reddish. The female is mostly mottled brown. Juveniles are similar to females. The length of the black francolin is around 14 inches (35 cm).
NAME: The English name ‘Francolin’ comes from Italian ‘Francolino” and means ‘free place’. This bird was previously called ‘Black Partridge’.
HABITAT: Grasslands and forest edges. Can be easily observed by roadsides, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
DIET: Seeds and insects.
NESTING: The nest is a scrape on the ground in a sheltered area. An average of twelve creamy eggs are laid.
DISTRIBUTION: The main native range of this species is India. It has been introduced to other parts of the world such as Italy, Florida and Louisiana. Black francolins were introduced in 1959 to Hawaii as a game bird.
CONSERVATION: In spite of being a game bird, black francolins populations are not at risk. They are being raised for their meat as well.
NOTES: As we were driving on Saddle Road (Big Island) not far from the access road to the Palila Forest Discovery Trail, we saw a covey of black francolins on the left side of the road. But as soon as we slowed down past them to take photos, they ran away into the field.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Erckel’s Francolin, Grey Francolin

Black Francolin, Apr. 2007, USDA NRCS
Black Francolin, Apr. 2007, USDA NRCS
Black Francolin pair, painting by Edward Neale, Dec. 1879
Black Francolin pair, painting by
Edward Neale, Dec. 1879