Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves (Birds) Order: Galliformes Family: Phasianidae
Gray Francolin - photo © Rajiv Lather
Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus), also called Gray Partridge, is a common breeding resident in India. Grey Francolin was also introduced in Andaman Is. and is now well established. Three geographical subspecies; the western (west of river Indus) F. pondicerianus mecranensis, the north and central F. pondicerianus interpositus and the southern nominate race (south India and north Sri Lanka) F. pondicerianus pondicerianus.
Size: 34 cm
Identification: Gray Francolins are stub-tailed, grayish-brown game birds; sexes alike with males slightly larger. With chestnut blotches above and buff vermiculations and chestnut tail. Throat rufous buff, circumscribed by dark gular line. The color of the races gets browner and darker from F. p. mecranensis (northwest) to F. p. interpositus to F. p. pondicerianus.
Hindi name: Teetar or Bhoora Tittar
Grey Francolin is found in most open habitats upto altitudes of 1000 m. Unlike Black Francolin, it prefers drier areas, avoiding humid tracts, and is more common in the neighborhood of farms and villages. Stays and feeds on the ground in daytime, mostly in pairs or small parties, but at night roosts on small trees like Babul and Shisham. Gray Francolins are fast runners and prefer to run when approached or disturbed. They take to wings only when surprised in the bushes or when persistently chased. Nest is a grass-lined depression in the ground, usually hidden under bushes or in crop cultivation. Food consists of grain, seeds, shoots, drupes, termites, and insects
In the last few decades the population of Gray Francolin had been steadily declining due to extensive hunting and trapping. But in recent years, with hunting ban more strictly enforced, these birds are staging a comeback, at least in northern parts of India.