Tetrao francolinus Linnaeus, 1766
The black francolin (Francolinus francolinus) is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. It was formerly known as the Black Partridge. It is the state bird of Haryana state, India (locally known as Kaala Teetar: काला तीतर).
The head of the black francolin is curved with brown iris eyes color and unique pattern of brown color crown and the throat color is black. It has a length range of 33 to 36 cm and weight approximate about 453 g (16 oz) and the size of black francolin is 9 to 16 inches. The primary color is black with black breast rufous belly, white spots on flanks and golden brown spots at the back of body. The flight pattern of black francolin is short, direct flight punctuated by glides with rounded wings, rounded tail narrow black and white bars.
Black francolin male
The male black francolin is black with white patch on the cheek, a chestnut collar and white spots on the flanks. The back and wings are scalloped with shades of golden brown with sub-terminal tawny-buff bands and pale edges. Tail is black with narrow white or greyish bars. Legs are reddish-brown to red.
Black francolin female
The female is mainly brown, but has a chestnut hind neck. The extent of the white spotting on the flanks varies substantially across the species' range and the depth of colour of the females similarly varies. The female has the upper plumage, wings and tail as in the male but the black is replaced by mottled brown and the brown bars on the lower back and tail are wider. Female is similar but dull with no cheek patch, and collar is replaced with a nuchal patch. Head and under parts are buff where the male shows black. Rump and upper tail coverts light brown.
Black francolins appear to be found in scrubby habitats with plenty of cultivated crops tall enough to offer shelter and open beneath to provide escape routes and easy travel. They prefer the areas of thick vegetation, usually near water. They are not forest birds but will frequent brush land and wood edges associated with grass land. They appear to be more closely associated to water than chukars are, and in drier areas.
Breeding and nesting
Francolins normally nests in a tall grasslands from late March to May. The male may be seen standing on a rock or low tree attracting attention with its extraordinary creaking call. It may be heard all day long in April, during nesting, and less persistently in March and May as well as the summer months. Both parents tend chicks after hatching. Young stay with parents through their first winter. The most likely breeding locations Savanna, Grasslands, Scrub vegetation areas under the cultivated crops. They have a loud call during the breeding season. Males may also become aggressive during the breeding season, make sure there is plenty of cover and escape routes for the hen and it maybe necessary to house her separate and allow limited access for breeding only. They are generally monogamous in the wild and it is best to house only pair per aviary. Well planted aviaries with little surrounding traffic would be best for breeding. They are fairly winter hardy, but always provide some shelter during the coldest months breeds from late March to September depending on the range.
The normal Clutch size between 10 and 14 eggs and only the hen incubates the eggs, the incubation period is 18 to 19 days and the breeding season is April to June and the young ones will appear in April through October.
Forages (plant, leaves, and stem) on the ground and eats a wide variety of seeds and insects. May also eat small mealworms and wax worms, but be careful when feeding to chicks as they are prone to toe-picking. Food consists mainly of grain, grass seeds, fallen berries, shoots, tubers, termites, ants and insects.
The color of the egg is white-spotted olive or pale brown.
Black francolins are monogamous.
The black francolin only flies when disturbed. It has a Pheasant’s explosive flight, but prefers to creep away unseen.
The call of the black francolin, described as a loud ringing klik cheek-cheek-cheerakik or "kik-kik-kik"," kwee-kweeeee-kwee" can be heard in the mornings and evenings and almost all day during the breeding season. The male calls standing on an earth mound, bund, rock or a low tree branch and is soon joined by other birds answering from all directions. Similar species: gray francolin has grey-brown and buff body, buff instead of black throat, and lacks rufous collar.
It is a resident breeder from south-eastern Turkey eastwards through Iran to southwest Turkmenistan and northeast India. Its range was formerly more extensive, but over-hunting has reduced its distribution and numbers. Fragmented populations occur in the western part of its range. They have been introduced to the Caucasus, Guam, and Hawaiian Islands. There are six recognized subspecies:
- F. f. francolinus (Linnaeus, 1766) - western black francolin - Cyprus, southern Turkey to Iraq and Iran
- F. f. arabistanicus (Zarudny and Harms, 1913) - Iranian black francolin - southern Iraq and western Iran
- F. f. asiae (Bonaparte, 1856) - Indian black francolin - northern India
- F. f. henrici (Bonaparte, 1856) - South Persian black francolin - southern Pakistan to western India
- F. f. bogdanovi (Zarudny, 1906) - southern Iran and Afghanistan to southern Pakistan
- F. f. melanonotus (Hume, 1888) - eastern India to Sikkim and Bangladesh.