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Pternistis hartlaubi (Hartlaub's spurfowl, Hartlaub's francolin) 

[= Francolinus hartlaubi

Klipfisant [Afrikaans]; Hartlaub-frankolijn [Dutch]; Francolin de Hartlaub [French]; Hartlaubfrankolin [German]; Francolim de Hartlaub [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Galliformes > Family: Phasianidae

Pternistis hartlaubi (Hartlaub's spurfowl, Hartlaub's francolin) Pternistis hartlaubi (Hartlaub's spurfowl, Hartlaub's francolin)
Hartlaub's spurfowl male (left) and female (right), Namibia. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ] Hartlaub's spurfowl male (left) and female (right), Namibia. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]


Compared to other francolins, the Hartlaub's spurfowl has a longer, more down-curved bill. In addition, the male can be distinguished by its white eye stripe and dark cap and the female by the uniform reddish-brown underparts.

One of the smallest francolins in southern Africa, averaging 270 g and 230 g in weight for male and female respectively. The Coqui francolin is arguably lighter (260 g and 240 g respectively), but there is overlap in weights between the two species.

Distribution and habitat

Patchily distributed through northern Namibia and south-western Angola. Found where there are rocky outcrops,  or scattered boulders.

Distribution of Hartlaub's spurfowl in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Predators and parasites

Recorded as prey of the African hawk-eagle.


Mainly eats corms and tubers of small sedges, using its bill to scrape them out of the ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • fruit
    • bulbs
    • seeds
    • corms and tubers of small sedges
      • Cyperus edulis (Uintjie)
  • Invertebrates
    • insects
    • land molluscs


  • Nest a scrape in the ground lined with dry leaves.
  • After laying 2-4 eggs, the female incubates them for about 23 days before they hatch.
  • Chicks can fly short distances at 3 days. They are fully grown at 165 days.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • Sinclair, I, Hockey, P. and Tarboton, W. 2002. Sasol Birds of Southern Africa. 3rd edition. Struik, Cape Town.

Text by Hamish Robertson