In May 1996 the authors carried out surveys of Harwood's Francolin Francolinus harwoodi, a threatened and restricted-range species, within the upper reaches of the Abay Basin, North Shoa Administrative Region, Ethiopia. The species is known from a small range in the Abay Basin but has not been reliably recorded away from a single site in the Jema Valley since 1930. Harwood's Francolin was found in the Jema Valley and valleys of adjacent river systems and, according to local reports, its range extends northwards into Southern Wello Administrative Region, a northerly extension of its previously known range. The species was found to be locally abundant, with transect counts giving a maximum density estimate of 92 birds/km2.
Typha beds had been considered a crucial element in the species's habitat, but our observations suggest that although Typha beds are sometimes used they are not an essential requirement. The main threat to the species's survival appears to be from clearance of thorn scrub rather than from clearance of Typha beds. Additional threats come from hunting for food and for sale at market, and collection of eggs.
Observations of courtship and mating in May and local reports of eggs in October indicate an earlier start to the breeding season than previously reported (first egg dates in December). The species may have two broods or have an extended, non-synchronous breeding season, timed to coincide with the rainy season and early dry season (May-December). Birds were observed to be highly gregarious and observations of courtship suggest that the species may be polygamous.
Recommendations are given for the conservation of the species, including further survey work and collaboration with local communities to identify and protect key areas of habitat.