The crested francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena) is a common species of francolin found in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It reaches an average length between 30-35 cm (12-14 in). It has a cryptically patterned plumage perfect for camouflage. Its most distinctive features are the clear white eye stripe contrasting with the dark crown, the white throat and how it often cocks its tail. Females and juveniles are a bit duller and lack the spur found on the legs of males.
Diet and habitat
This ground-dwelling species prefers woodlands and savannah with adequate cover and bushes. The crested francolin forages on the ground, often in pairs or in small family groups. In summer it will mostly feed on insects and other invertebrates, while in winter it feeds on plant materials such as bulbs, roots, leaves, fruits and berries.
The crested francolin forms temporary breeding pairs that can last up to 10 months. Breeding season always coincides with the rainy season. Males often have violent fights over females, where they use the spurs on the back of their legs. The nest is built on the ground. It is a small scrape hidden in vegetation lined with grass and leaves. 3-7 eggs are laid and incubated solely by the female for 19-26 days. The male guards the nest and will warn the female of any approaching danger. The chicks leave nest as soon as 2 hours after hatching, after which they will be looked after by both parents.