You are currently viewing Guineafowls, francolins and spurfowls in East Africa
Grey-breasted Spurfowl endemic in the Serengeti

Guineafowls, francolins, spurfowls, quails

Chicken and relatives – Order – Galliformes – are quite heavily built birds mainly living on the ground in different habitats all over the globe

Guineafowls – Family Numidae. This family is endemic to Africa South of the Sahara and consists of 6 species with several subspecies. They feed on plant and carnivorous food on the ground and often roost on trees. They live in large flocks with a rank order. The most common and widest spread Helmeted Guineafowl has been domesticated and exported to other continents.
In East Africa 3 species with several subspecies occur.

New world quails – Family Odontophoridae also African species in the

Stone Partridge – Subfamily Ptilopachinae

Pheasants and relatives – Family Phasianidae. From small to large, from well camouflaged to very colourful ground living birds. Some roost on trees. Pheasants, chicken, old world quails, turkeys, peafowl, francolins, spurfowls and partridges. Around 184 species are in this family.
Their diet is very variable – berries, seeds, leaves, tubers to insects and small reptiles.

The eggs are laid into mounds of vegetation or slight scrapes in the ground. The average number of eggs is 7 – 12.

Francolins & Spurfowls

In Africa you meet different species which occur from savanna up to 3.000+ m in the moorland. They live in pairs with their offspring. Females and males only differ slightly.

Some species are widely distributed often in different subspecies. Some are endemic to East Africa like Jackson’s Spurfowl mainly to be found in the Aberdare National Park. For example the Grey-breasted Spurfowl only occurs in some areas in the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Buttonquail – Family
Turnicidae is a small family of small birds inhabiting warm grassland in Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.

We are grateful to the amazing bird photographers who generously gave permission to use their beautiful photos to make the list of East African bird species almost complete. Click on the photo for larger view. The names of the photographers are on the photo and in the text. Those without name are from Elvira Wolfer.

To give you actual information as possible we use Avibase, the books “Birds of South of the Sahara”, “Birds of East Africa”, “Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania”. Then we put the most characteristic information to the photo.

Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida m. meleagris) is the subspecies found in Ethiopia, Uganda and Northern Kenya. Photo is taken at Lewa Downs

Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris reichenowi) is found in Kenya South of the equator to Central Tanzania.

Kenya or Crested Guineafowl (Guttera pucherani) likes forests, forest edges and wooded areas from Somalia to Kenya and Northern Tanzania / Zanzibar. Photo Lorenzo Barelli

Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) is the largest among the 3 species and inhabits arid scrub land and savanna from Tsavo National Parks to Somalia. They are often found in large flocks scratching for food. Video

Kenya Stone Partridge (Ptilopachus petrosus) occurs at dry rocky hillsides from Northern Kenya (Laikipia) to Northern Uganda. Photo Lorenzo Barelli

Coqui Francolin (Francolinus coqui hubbardi) occurs in grassland in Western and SW Kenya to central Tanzania. Photo Lorenzo Barelli left male and Jacques Pitteloud right female
Francolinus coqui maharao is found from Northern Kenya to NE Tanzania
Francolinus c. coqui occurs in lowland in the coastal region

Shelley’s Francolin (Sleroptila shelleyi uluensis) is inhabiting savanna and open woodland from central Kenya to N Tanzania. Nominate lives in SW Uganda to S Tanzania. Macarthuri is found in the Chyulu Hills. Photo from Nairobi National Park

Clapperton’s Francolin / Spurfowl (Pternistis clappertoni) occurs in semi arid savanna in NE Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Photo Marina Meger

Crested Francolin / Spurfowl (Dendroperdix sephaena) is common in grassy wooded bushland from East to Southern Africa. The subspecies grantii (Col. Grant’s Francolin) is found from South Sudan to central Tanzania. In North Eastern Kenya the subspecies Abyssinian Francolin (D.s. spilogaster) is found. At the coast you find the split up species Kirk’s Francolin (Dendroperdix rovuma). Photo Lorenzo Barelli
The Crested Francolin in Samburu was picking insects on and near the Dikdik. Photo Elvira Wolfer

Hildebrandt’s Francolin / Spurfowl (Pternistis h. hildebranti) thickets up to montane heath in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. From Marsabit, Maralal, Samburu, Chyulu, Pare Mountains, Arusha to Ngorongoro. Photos Rolf Bonkwald left female & Per Holmen right male

Hildebrandt’s Francolin / Spurfowl (Pternistis hildebrandti altumi) in thickets in the Masai Mara, in the Great Rift Valley up to Nakuru and South to Nguruman mountains.

Yellow-necked Spurfowl / Francolin (Pternistis leucoscepus) is endemic to NE Africa in open savanna.

Red-necked Spurfowl / Francolin (Pternistis afer cranchii) is found in Uganda, Western Kenya and Tanzania South to NE Zambia. 

Red-necked Spurfowl / Francolin (Pternistis afer leucoparaeus) is found along the Kenya coast and Tana River to the border to Tanzania. Shimba Hills

Grey-breasted Spurfowl / Francolin (Pternistis rufopictus) is endemic to Tanzania in the Serengeti region.

Jackson’s Spurfowl / Francolin (Pternistis jacksoni) is endemic to montane grassland in Western and Central Kenya. Best place to find it is in the moorland of the Aberdare National park.

Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix erlangeri) likes moist grassland in many countries in Africa between which they migrate. Photo Per Holmen

African Harlequin Quail (Coturnix d. delegorguei) is found in many parts of Africa in moist grass land and savanna. Photos Per Holmen left male and Lorenzo Barelli right female

Common / Kurrichane / small Buttonquail (Turnix sylvaticus lepurana) inhabits tall grass land and savanna from West to East and South Africa. The female is larger than the male. Photo Per Holmen