aka English Partridge, Common Partridge,
Hungarian Partridge or Hun
The Grey Partridge is a
native to Britain and is a game bird in the Pheasant family. First recorded in
the UK in the 11th century, it is declining greatly in numbers in areas of
intensive cultivation such as in the UK, due to loss of breeding habitat and
food supplies. The numbers have fallen by 85% in the last 25 years. Efforts are
being made by organizations such as the Game Conservancy Trust to halt the
decline by creating Conservation headlands.
It is strictly a ground bird, but can fly in short
bursts when necessary. It flies with whirring wings and occasional glides when
it's short chestnut tail becomes visible. Outside the breeding season will be
found in groups of 6-15, known as coveys. They are smaller than Pheasants and
Red-Legged Partridges, but larger than quails.
It is a medium sized
plump bird with an orange face. Brown backed with grey flanks and chest. Belly
is white usually marked with a chestnut brown horse-shoe mark. The tail is rusty
red, bill horn coloured and legs are grey. The only major difference between a
male and female is the horse-show mark on the belly with the females beling
smaller and less distinct. Young grey partridges are brown with yellow legs and
do not have the distinctive face and under-part markings.
In Britain: All year
Life Span: Typical 3 years, maximum
recorded 5 years and 2 months.
Statistics: 28-32cm long, Wingspan 46cm, Weight 390g
Habitat: Farmland, particularly arable land
and edges of woodland.
Food: Seeds and leaves like clover, cereal
and grain. However chicks are fed on insects. During the first 10 days of life
the young can only digest insects.
Breeding: 70-75,000 breeding pairs. In
ground nest under cover of hedge or other tall plants. Breeding starts in April
and they lay 13-16 eggs which incubate for 23-25 days and then fledge 14-16 days
Distribution: Traditionally found in lowland arable areas of the UK from
the chalk areas in the south into East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire,
reaching into the north of England the the East of Scotland. There are small
populations in other areas, but are largely absent from Wales and Northern
Ireland. UK population size said to be around 70,000 breeding pairs.
It is a non migratory bird which forms flocks
outside the breeding season. It generally likes to walk and run but when
disturbed it can fly short distances often calling rick, rick, rick as it takes
Conservation Status: In the UK it has RSPB Red Status, which means
it has had more than 50% decline in the last 25 years of both it's breeding
population and breeding range. Widespread and common in most other areas it is
found and therefore the ICUN puts it in it's Least Concern category.
BTO Bird Facts
the Grey Partridge