Wing 180-190 mm
Harwood’s Francolin has been reported from only three localities along about 160 kilometers of valleys and gorges within the upper Blue Nile system extending to the east and north of the Addis Ababa-Debre Marcos-Dejen bridge; this francolin is a very poorly known Ethiopian endemic. It was first recorded for science in 1898 at Ahiyafej, then again in 1927 at Bichana, and in 1930 at Kalo Ford along the banks of the Blue Nile “below Zemie”. No other record of this species has been published although recent reports suggest that it is more widely distributed than previously thought.
Majoir R.E. Cheesman, who obtained the 1927 and the 1930 the specimens, observed that the local people around Bichana knew the species “and considered it the best table bird of the Francolin family”. In fact, the Bichana specimen was presented to him by the leader of the area to be eaten; Cheesman thought the live animal was not from Bichana but was captured alive in the lower altitudes of the Blue Nile Valley and brought to him.
Very little can be said about the biology of this francolin. The male can be recognized by a distinctive U-shaped pattern on the black and white feathers of the breast; the female is unknown to science. Its preferred surroundings are unknown; its nest, eggs, time of nesting, food, call and general behavior are undescribed. Since the local people at least in the late 1920’s and 1930’s were familiar with the Harwood’s Francolin, it seems reasonable to assume that it may have been more common than thought at that time and may still be so today. Two species very closely related to the Harwood’s Francolin occur in Central and Southern Africa. The two, the Hildebrandt’s Francolin (Francolinus hildebrandti) and the Natal Francolin (F. natalensis), are especially fond of dense bush along stream beds and rocky bills covered with long grass or bush. It again seems very reasonable to assume that the Harwood’s Francolin lives in similar habitat in the Blue Nile Valley system.