Orange River Francolin (Scleroptila gutturalis) are medium-sized gamebirds that are found grasslands like open savannas, and occasionally woodland areas in Africa. Orange River Francolin appears similar to the Red-winged Francolin in plumage and can be distinguished by its smaller stature. The thick, black to gray beak is almost the same length as its face and hooks down slightly. Their plumage is beautifully simple, with a rusty or tan breast and light brown spotted back. The Orange River Francolin’s legs are relatively short and yellow with wide-splaying feet. There are slight differences between the northern and southern taxa, as the northern individual’s black neck-line does not extend to the eye and displays a whiter belly. The southern individuals have a buff belly with a black neck-line that extends to the eyes. These different characteristics have led some ornithologists to the conclusion that these are separate species; others do not agree with this and continue to treat them as the same species. These wonderful gamebirds are hunted with pointing dog breeds in South Africa.
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The northern distribution for the Orange River Francolin includes Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya. The southern distribution is found in Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho. This is a non-migratory species that has become well adapted to agricultural lands that have fragmented their natural habitat. In their natural landscapes and agricultural foraging grounds, this species consumes mostly vegetative matter like bulbs and seeds in the winter and add invertebrates to their diet in the summer. Almost all of their foraging is done by digging into the ground using their beak.
The Orange River Francolin can breed year-round, with the southern range’s breeding peaking in midwinter to spring. This solitary nester is known to be monogamous, like other species of Francolin. While actively breeding, this species can be found in coveys containing 3 to 5 birds. Orange River Francolin females alone make their nest scrapes in the ground surrounded by dense grasses. Both parents are known to care for the young, and clutches can range from 3 to 8 eggs.