The Crested Francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena) distribution extends over most of the savannas of eastern Africa south of the Sahara. In southern Africa, it occurs from northeastern Namibia, across northern and eastern Botswana, into Zimbabwe. Mostly it is found in African countries, Angola, Botswana, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, Crested Francolin is largely absent from the northeastern and central regions. It falls outside the major francolin clades, grouping with an assemblage of primarily Indo-Malaysian perdicines. Its closest affinity with the African francolins is with the Coqui Francolin Fcoqui and the red-winged group.
Kirk’s Francolin, considered a subspecies of Crested Francolin, has been accorded specific status in the past. It differs from the nominate race by having a streaked lower abdomen, and replaces the nominate race in the low-lying areas of southern Mozambique from the Save River north-wards, extending through Tanzania to Somalia.
It occurs in pairs when breeding and in family parties of up to seven birds at other times. It is conspicuous and highly vocal, frequently seen along roadsides, and is easily distinguished from other francolins by its bantam-like build, with a cocked tail.
It generally inhabits woodlands with a dense scrub component. It favors areas with bush encroachment in savannas and tolerates poor grass cover. The vegetation analysis clearly shows its preference for woodlands; there is a marked avoidance of Miombo and the semi-arid Central and southern Kalahari. It is commonest in Acacia woodland compared to broadleaved woodland, and found densities of 48 birds / 100 ha in Acacia woodland, and 7.4 birds/100 ha in broadleaved woodland, in a central Transvaal study area.
Densities in northern Botswana were close to 1 bird/10 ha in a variety of Acacia-dominated habitats but differed widely in broadleaved 1 bird/8 ha in secondary broad-leaved riverine woodland, 1 bird/12 ha in Mopane scrub and tall Okavango riparian woodland, 1 bird/150 ha in tall miombo-like and Baikiaea woodlands, and 1 bird/250 ha in tall Mopane woodlands). In Zimbabwe, it is associated with thickets below 800 m, but it occurs up to 900 m in the drier west.
There are no previous reports of seasonal movements, which suggest that the seasonal fluctuations in reporting rates, particularly marked in Zone6, are probably due to seasonal variations inconspicuousness. The Crested Francolin possesses a basic communication system of eight different calls that is akin to the repertoire size of other non-passerines.
The crested Francolin egg-laying process in both Zimbabwe and the Transvaal spans October till May, mainly October–March in both regions. The atlas data probably represent mainly sightings of chicks. A trend of earlier and more restricted breeding seasons with increasing latitude is suggested by the models. The breeding record speaks in February–May in Zones 1 and 5 (northeastern Namibia, northern Botswana, and Zimbabwe), December–February in Zone 6 (Transvaal), and November–February in Zone 7 (KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland). It is suggested that the peak breeding months might be as late as March-May in Zimbabwe.
In the drier savannas of the Transvaal and Zimbabwe, it is often sympatric with Coqui, Shelley’s F. shelleyi, Swainson’s F. swainsonii, and Natal F.natalensis Francolins. However, the Crested Francolin usually favors denser stands of scrub and thicket than Coqui, Shelley’s, and Swainson’s Francolins and drier sites than the Natal Francolin.
Historical Distribution and Conservation:
Although it might fluctuate locally in population size and distribution according to changes in habitat quality, there is no evidence of any long-term extensive distributional changes. The Crested Francolin is apparently not threatened any-where in its range, except locally where the bush is cleared and it as meriting monitoring. Read More – Greater Blue Eared Starling The Gorgeous Mystery Bird