A-z - Animals

partridge

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Partridge is a ground-dwelling bird with more than 40 species in 14 genera. They are game birds and are often hunted for food or as targets for practice shooting.

Partridges are adaptable and thrive in all parts of the globe. They are found in Europe, Asia and Africa. Also, when the British discovered the New World, some species were migrated to North America.

There are considerable populations of these birds across Europe, preferring habitats of grasslands, lowlands and agricultural areas.

They have similar characteristics to pheasant and quail. Of the 40 species, the red-footed and gray partridges were the most common.

The IUCN lists most members of the partridge family as species of least concern. But, unfortunately, the red-footed partridge is listed as Near Threatened on their Red List.

Three unbelievable facts about Partridge!

  • A long-lost civilization immortalized male partridges in art, depicting them as symbols of fertility.
  • Partridges build their nests on the ground, usually hiding them in dense vegetation.
  • They are native to Europe, Africa, and Asia; however, several species emerged in North America as partridges were brought to the New World for sport hunting.

7 different types of partridges

There are 40 different species of partridge, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are seven of the most famous partridge species.



1. Red-legged partridge ( Alectoris rufa )

The red-footed partridge has another name: the French partridge. It derived the name to help distinguish it from the gray or English partridge.

They are cryptic, padded round birds that inhabit some areas of the UK. Their chosen habitat is the lowland and farmland areas of southwestern Europe.

The birds originated in France, Spain and Italy, but the natives transported them to England and Wales for sport hunting.

Adults are sandy brown with a pink belly. Other notable features include the luxurious black stripe on the larynx (colored patch on the throat), black side ribs, and russet-striped flanks.

The red-legged partridge has a red beak and pink legs that stand out against the vegetation in its natural habitat.

Red-footed partridges tend to gather in groups of 20 and can often be seen waddling across meadows and pastures. Because of their sandy brown color, they can be well camouflaged in vegetation, making them nearly invisible.

Like many members of the partridge family, they are monogamous, preferring to live with one mate. They produce two broods at once, which helps increase their numbers, although they are huge targets as game birds.

2. Gray Partridge ( Perdix perdix )

The gray partridge is a small bird in the pheasant family. They are brown on the back and gray on the chest and sides. The gray partridge has a white belly with distinct chestnut-brown horseshoe markings.

Juveniles come in varying colors, mostly yellowish-brown, but lack distinctive facial patterns and belly markings.

They are distributed throughout most of Europe and Western Asia. Their preferred habitats are scrub, grass and steppe, and agricultural areas with small fields.

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3. Stone partridge ( Alectoris graeca )

The rock partridge is part of the pheasant family Phasianidae. They are considered game birds and belong to the order Galliformes.

They originated in southern Europe and are only found in the Alps and Apennines. Sicily and the Balkans. The rock partridge has very similar characteristics to its eastern cousins Chukar and A.chukar .

4. Blackwood Partridge ( Melanoperdix nigra )

The black wood partridge, also known as the black partridge, belongs to the pheasant family. They are small birds from South Asian countries such as:

  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • borneo

Also, they were once present in Singapore but have long been extinct in the region. These cunning birds inhabit densely forested areas.

The population of the black wood partridge has been steadily declining over the years, with only 15,000 to 30,000 believed to be left in the wild. The biggest threat to their extinction is rapid deforestation.

5. Chestnut-bellied partridge ( Arborophila javanica )

Chestnut-bellied partridges go by many names, such as Chestnut-bellied Mountain Partridge and Javan Mountain Partridge. They are small, only 11 inches long.

Additionally, they have a reddish-brown crest, nape, gray chest, red legs, brown wings, black mask, throat, beak, and red facial skin. Both sexes have similar features, but juveniles have a whitish face and a reddish-brown beak. The chestnut-bellied partridge inhabits the hills of Indonesia and the mountainous forests of western and eastern Java.

Males build domed nests of long grass, and females lay up to four eggs, which helps maintain population numbers, and they are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

6. Cockscomb Partridge ( Rollulus roulroul )

Crested partridge, also known as red-crowned partridge, green partridge, broiler, crested partridge, and wood-hungry quail. They are game birds belonging to the pheasant family Phasianidae . Also, they are the only members of the genus Rollulus .

The crested wood partridge occurs in the lowland rainforests of southern Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, southern Myanmar, and Borneo.

To build their nests, they scrape the ground and line the hollow areas with leaves. Next, they hide their nests under a pile of fallen leaves. The female usually lays 5 to 6 white eggs, which hatch for 18 days.

Parents help their young eat by point-to-point feeding, rather than letting them peck on the ground, which is unusual for galliformes .

7. Stone partridge ( Ptilopachus petrosus )

The stone partridge is a large bird that belongs to the New World quail family. They are mainly brown and have raised tails. These large birds inhabit scrub and sparsely treed areas, often near rocks in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Gambia.

Due to genetic evidence, the stone partridge is only one of two members of the genus Ptilopachus . Another member is Nahan 's Partridge.

They are small and black, with erect and thick tails. Their legs are red and they have bare red skin around their eyes. Additionally, they have fine markings on their heads and chests.

Plumage varies by region, but is generally darker in wetter regions and lighter in drier regions.

Stone partridges usually live in pairs or small groups, preferring dense grassy understory, savannah and rocky habitats.

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Stone partridges communicate through a series of loud "wheets" notes that get louder with each call. These voices are usually a duet.

where to find partridges

Partridges are highly adaptable and inhabit much of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America.

Habitat varies by species, with some nesting in grasslands or agricultural areas, while others inhabit dense vegetation such as dense forests. They nest on grassy ground and are considered omnivorous.

the bird's nest

Partridges are one of many birds that live entirely on the ground. Other ground-dwelling birds include:

  • pheasant
  • quail
  • killer deer
  • cassowary
  • emu
  • ostrich
  • roadrunner
  • burrowing owl

While these birds may seem odd because they don't nest high, they're actually not that weird, since birds evolved from a specific branch of dinosaurs. These prehistoric giants began to grow feathers before they were able to fly, and possessed many bird-like qualities.

Additionally, scientists have discovered various dino nests, all found on the ground, that closely resemble partridges.

The 56 species of partridge are ground-dwelling animals that use their short, strong legs as tools for burrowing, nesting and foraging. This species is usually a fast runner, but will suddenly flee if they sense danger is near.

Partridge Taxonomy

Partridges are members of the Phasianidae family, non-migratory birds belonging to the Old World group. They belong to the order Galliformes , which consists of large, ground-dwelling birds that include:

  • turkey
  • chicken
  • quail
  • other land birds

These birds are essential in their various ecosystems because they are seed dispersers and, as predators, they control various insect populations. Humans love these birds because they use them for meat, eggs, and hunting sport.

The pheasant family consists of land-dwelling birds and includes:

  • pheasant
  • partridge
  • jungle chicken
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • old world quail
  • Peacock

This family is very large and includes 185 species divided into 54 genera. In addition, this family consists of very popular game birds.

size and appearance

Partridges are generally 11 to 13 inches long and have a wingspan of 20 to 22 inches. So, to put it in perspective, they're only ¼ the size of a turkey.

Partridges look a lot like pheasants and quails. Their feathers are soft and fluffy, making them appear larger than they are, and they have small heads.

Color varies by species, but is usually reddish brown, gray or black. Gray partridges have a white belly, gray sides, and a brown back.

However, the red-footed partridge stands out for its red rings around its eyes. Their backs are covered in brown feathers, with gray bellies and cream necks.

However, males are distinguished by their chestnut markings. These marks resemble the shape of a horseshoe.

Gray partridge walking on the beach
Gray partridges have gray breasts and sides.

© Voodison328/Shutterstock.com

Habitat, Behavior and Reproduction

Habitat

These popular birds inhabit lowland and agricultural areas where they nest underground. However, species like the Hainan partridge live in woodland or densely forested areas.

Behavior

Partridges are non-migratory and live in small flocks called "band flocks", consisting of a breeding pair and their chicks. Once the chicks are mature, they leave their parents and begin to form their own flock.

diet

These ground-dwelling birds are omnivorous, but usually subsist on a herbivorous diet. Their diet includes:

  • seed
  • whole grains
  • vegetation
  • fruit
  • nut
  • corn
  • beans
  • small insect
  • Invertebrates
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reproduction

Partridges generally mate for life and live in monogamous relationships. Males and females take turns protecting their families. They become very aggressive towards other animals that threaten their squad.

Nesting usually occurs on the ground in grasslands or agricultural areas. The number of eggs laid depends on the species. For example, red-footed partridges can lay up to 16 eggs per clutch. They cover their eggs with weeds, dirt and grass to protect their young.

Chicks will start hatching two and a half weeks after laying eggs. After just a week, the chicks will begin to leave the nest independently. After that, however, they will stay with their parents until they reach sexual maturity at 3 months of age.

molt

Moulting varies between species. For example, gray partridges have almost complete feathers after one month. However, the tail takes up to 6 weeks. Their juvenile molts begin within 4 to 5 weeks of primary. However, the body molt only begins at 6 to 7 weeks, with the flank and back feathers beginning to molt.

life

Partridges don't live long; on average, they live about 2 years. However, some species such as the gray partridge can live up to 4 years. Also, the lifespan of the red-legged partridge is about 5 to 6 years.

Predators, threats and conservation status

Partridges are a delicious meal for many carnivores. They need to stay away from the following animals:

  • great horned owl
  • falcon
  • puppy
  • cat
  • red fox
  • gray fox
  • skunk
  • raccoon

There are 56 species of partridge, only 37 of which are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, populations of 43 species are gradually declining.

Gray partridges, for example, are listed as worry-free, yet their numbers have sadly declined by a remarkable 91% between 1967 and 2010. Behind this catastrophic decline are threats such as pesticides and herbicides, which mainly affect chicks.

Sadly, the Sichuan partridge inhabiting south-central Sichuan province in China is endangered, with only 1,000 left in the wild. Another threat to all species is habitat loss, mainly due to illegal logging.

population

Because partridges come in so many different species, it can be difficult to count their populations. However, there are data on the population size of specific species, such as the red-footed partridge, which ranges from 9,950,000 to 13,700,000 individuals in the wild.

Once upon a time, the gray partridge was the most common bird in the English countryside. However, due to overhunting, their numbers have declined by 80% over the past 30 years.

See all 187 animals starting with P

Partridge is a ground-dwelling bird with more than 40 species in 14 genera. They are game birds and are often hunted for food or as targets for practice shooting.

Yes, partridges are part of people's diets in many cultures. They are one of the most popular game birds in the world.

Yes, they can fly, but tend to stay firmly on the ground unless threatened.

No, partridges are wild birds and would not make good pets.