Gallinaceous birds are arboreal or terrestrial animals. All are skilled runners that can fly only a few hundred feet when escaping danger. They are mainly non-migratory birds. They live from 5–8 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.

Most galliforms are very prolific, with clutches regularly exceeding 10 eggs in many species. In contrast to most birds which are – at least for a particular breeding season –  monogamous, galliforms are often polygynous or polygamous. Galliform young are very precocious and will roam their habitat with their mothers – or both parents in monogamous species – mere hours after hatching.

The Galliform order totals 290 species in five families, with the Phasianidae being divided into several subfamilies:

Megapodiidae (brush-turkeys, mallee fowl );
Cracidae (chachalacas and currasows);
Numididae (guineafowl);
Odontophoridae (new world quails);
Phasianidae include subfamilies Gallininae (francolins, chicken), Coturnicinae (old world quail, spurfowl), Pavoninae (peafowl), Phasianinae (true pheasants), Meleagrinidae (turkeys), Perdicinae (grey and red-legged partridges, placed in distinct genders) and Tetraoninae (grouse and ptarmigans) . The true partridges of Europe are still not confidently placed.