Red-winged Francolin

The red-winged francolin (Scleroptila levaillantii) is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae. 

Red-winged Francolins are often considered the largest francolins found in Southern Africa, growing up to 13.7 inches or 35 centimeters and weighing about 430 grams. Both sexes look similar, sporting off white and brick red-speckled bellies and breasts, cryptically-colored upperwings and back, whitish throat with reddish-brown edges, and a conspicuous black-and-white necklace.

Red-winged Francolin prefers level or mildly sloping mountainous grasslands, high-altitude mountain shrublands, or grasslands dense with Themeda triandra grass. Red-winged Francolins primarily feed on underground corms or bulbs, such as Moraea, Hypoxis, Rhodohypoxis, Gladiolus, and Hesperantha. Insects become a significant part of their diet during the summer and breeding season.

These birds often occur in small groups of 4-8 birds near marshy areas. They are monogamous and will form strong bonds with their partners but also territorial and solitary nesters. Breeding seasons vary depending on the range. 

Red-winged Francolins’ nests are built on a shallow depression on the ground, lined with grass, placed among tufts of grass. These birds favor nesting along wetland edges on grasses that have not burnt for around 2-3 years.

In certain regions, like Kenya,  the suitable habitat for red-winged francolins has declined due to frequent burning and overgrazing, forcing them to become extinct in some former range. Despite this, they have not reached a more at risk evaluation and are classified under Least Concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List.

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