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The francolin is barred throughout and the face is pale with a thin black border to the pale throat. The only similar species is the Painted Francolin, which has a rufous vent. The male can have up to two spurs on the legs while females usually lack them. The nominate race in the southern peninsula of India has populations with a darker rufous throat, supercilium and is richer brown. They are weak fliers and fly short distances, escaping into undergrowth. In flight it shows a chestnut tail and dark primaries.
The Grey Francolin is normally found foraging on bare or low grass covered ground in scrub and open country, and is rarely found above an altitude of 500 m above sea level in India, and 1200 m in Pakistan. The distribution is south of the foothills of the Himalayas westwards to the Indus valley and eastwards to Bengal. It is also found in north-western Sri Lanka.