The Painted Francolin: A Vibrant Denizen of India’s Grasslands

Located amidst the vibrant biodiversity of India, the Painted Francolin (Francolinus pictus) is a species of bird that offers a compelling spectacle for bird lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Known for its distinctive appearance and vocal nature, this species is an essential part of India’s grassland ecosystems. Easily distinguished by their loud calls, especially during the breeding season, these birds are an integral part of the avian life across central and southern India and the southeastern lowlands of Sri Lanka. Their adaptability to the climatic conditions and geographical diversity of India has made them a fascinating subject for ornithological study.

Bird Characteristics

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common namePainted Francolin
2Scientific nameFrancolinus pictus
3ColourRufous face and throat, white-spotted underside
4Average length30-35 cm
5Average height30-35 cm
6Type of birdGrassland bird
7Found in India in statesRajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Central and Southern India
8HabitatSemi-dry undulating grasslands with scrub or cultivation
9IUCN StatusData Deficient (as of the latest update, always subject to change)

Features of the Painted Francolin


On average, the Painted Francolin measures approximately 30-35 cm in length. Their size enables them to navigate the grassy terrains with agility and precision. This length, coupled with their robust bodies, allows them to traverse their habitat efficiently, finding food and evading predators when necessary.


Similarly, the average height of the Painted Francolin also falls within the range of 30-35 cm. This stature gives the bird a distinct advantage in its habitat, offering a superior vantage point to spot potential threats and opportunities, vital for its survival in the grasslands.

Running Speed

While the exact running speed of the Painted Francolin is not well-documented, it is known to be quite agile and quick, especially when threatened. Its strong legs enable it to dart swiftly through its habitat, outpacing potential predators and ensuring its survival.

Other Features

One of the most distinguishing features of the Painted Francolin is its bright rufous face and throat, which stands out against its white-spotted underside. Both sexes of this species lack spurs on their legs, another distinguishing characteristic. They are more arboreal in habits compared to their black francolin counterparts, often found roosting in trees or even on the ground.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Distribution and Habitat : The Painted Francolin is endemic to the Indian subcontinent, with a patchy distribution from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh south into peninsular India. They are typically found in semi-dry undulating grasslands with scrub or cultivation.
  2. Adaptability : These birds are adept at adapting to different habitats, found in drier areas than the black francolin, but wetter zones than the grey francolin.
  3. Feeding Habits : The Painted Francolin feeds on grass seeds, including Brachiaria ramosa, and grains of cultivated rice. They are omnivorous, and their diet also includes beetles and other insects.
  4. Foraging : They are known to feed on the tuberous roots of Cyperus rotundus, indicating their ability to forage both above and beneath the ground for sustenance.
  5. Feeding Time : These birds are active foragers, with feeding usually taking place during the early hours of the day and in the late afternoon.

Nesting and Nurturing

Painted Francolins are known for their particular nesting habits. They build their nests as scrapes in the ground, often hidden in dense vegetation or tall grasses to protect from predators. The breeding season typically commences after the monsoons, from June to October. During this period, they become more vocal, their distinct call resonating across their habitat.

The female Painted Francolin lays about six or seven smoky white eggs per breeding season. Both parents participate in the incubation process, providing warmth and protection to the eggs..After they hatch, the chicks receive care from both parents until they are independent enough to take care of themselves..


The Painted Francolin shares some interesting threads with its environment and the humans who encounter them. For example, they have a unique call that can be heard during the early morning hours, especially during their breeding season. This call, described as a guttural broken crow “chee-kee-kerray- Chee-kee-kerray”, is often answered by other birds in the vicinity, creating a fascinating and distinctive aural landscape. Their habit of calling from an elevated position such as a mound, bush, or tree stump further underlines their unique connection with their habitat.

Moreover, despite their vivid plumage, these birds are not easy to spot due to their shy nature and excellent camouflage abilities. They often freeze when disturbed and only flush out when approached very close. This behaviour demonstrates their survival instincts and adaptability to their environment.

Furthermore, the populations of Painted Francolin fluctuate during and after the monsoons, hinting at the species’ adaptability and resilience to seasonal changes. This pattern is a unique thread of their existence, intertwined with the climatic rhythms of their habitat.

IUCN Status and Conservation

As of the latest update, the Painted Francolin’s status on the IUCN Red List is classified as ‘Data Deficient’, which indicates that more research is needed to ascertain its exact population trend. The species’ patchy distribution and adaptability suggest a level of resilience against habitat changes. However, like all wildlife, they are susceptible to drastic environmental alterations and human-induced disruptions.

Conservation efforts for the Painted Francolin must be multifaceted, focusing on protecting its natural habitat from degradation, minimizing hunting, and monitoring its population to prevent any possible decline. In addition, increasing public awareness about this unique species and promoting bird-friendly practices, especially in areas where they are found, can help ensure the Painted Francolin’s continued presence in the Indian subcontinent’s biodiversity.

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