GREY FRANCOLIN (Francolinus pondicerianus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Grey Francolin is mainly brown (in spite of its name) with barred plumage. The head and back are reddish brown and the under parts are beige. The bill is dark grey and the eyes are black. The upper mandible is slightly downcurved which helps in digging the soil for seeds and insects. The legs are reddish grey. The male has one or two spur(s) on the legs. Sexes are similar, and the bird is about 12 inches (30 cm) long.
NAME: The English name ‘Francolin’ comes from Italian ‘Francolino” and means ‘free place’. The Latin species name ‘pondicerianus’ refers to the Indian city Pondicherry.
HABITAT: In its native range, plains and dry shrubland. In Hawaii, it is also observed on golf courses and along roadsides, mainly on early morning and late afternoon.
DIET: Seeds and insects.
NESTING: The nest is a scrape on the ground in a sheltered area. An average of seven eggs are laid.
DISTRIBUTION: The grey francolin is native to the Indian subcontinent. Introduced to several USA states, including Hawaii, around 1959 as game bird.
CONSERVATION: In addition to being hunted for food, this francolin is used in India for fighting. It is also raised in this country. It is a year-round resident in its range. Populations are stable and not at risk.
NOTES: I observed several small groups of grey francolins along Saddle Road on the slopes of Mauna Kea. This is ranch country with vast fields.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Erckel’s Francolin, Black Francolin (female), Painted Francolin

Grey francolin, Maui, HI - photo by Dick Daniels, May 2009
Grey francolin, Maui, by Dick Daniels