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What is a Grey Partridge?

The Grey Partridge, a charming bird with a rotund body and striking plumage, thrives in Europe's farmlands. Known for its melodic call, it's a symbol of rural beauty facing conservation challenges. Intrigued by this feathered enigma? Discover how the Grey Partridge plays a pivotal role in our ecosystem and what we can do to ensure its song endures. Ready to learn more?
Steve R.
Steve R.

Also known as the Hungarian partridge, Hun, or the Bohemian Partridge, the grey partridge (Perdix perdix) is a small non-migratory bird of the pheasant family that resembles a chicken. The grey partridge has a reddish head with a gray neck, legs, bill, and chest. Adults typically are 12 to 14 inches (about 30 to 36 centimeters) in length and weigh 14 to 17 ounces (385 to 500 grams). The bird possesses a thick bill and short, rounded wings, and has a wing span of 21 to 22 inches (about 53 to 56 centimeters). Native to Europe and Asia, the grey partridge builds its nests in cultivated fields, pastures, and grasslands.

The grey partridge is found in Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, and Turkey. The bird is also found in Russia and western Siberia. Introduced to North America as a game bird in the 1900s, the grey partridge is well populated in areas of south central Canada and the northern United States. In Canada, the grey partridge is populous in British Columbia. In America, the partridge inhabits much of the agricultural areas of the upper Great Plains and some portions of the west.

Sunflowers are part of a grey partridge's diet.
Sunflowers are part of a grey partridge's diet.

The grey partridge has a short neck and tail. Its tail feathers are brown, white, red, and gray. Males typically possess a dark colored patch in the shape of a horseshoe on their underbellies. Generally, females will have a much smaller or lighter patch on their underbellies, or may not have a colored patch on their stomach at all.

Typically, partridges live in small groups called coveys, and they are extremely territorial creatures. During the breeding season in the spring and summer, partridges live alone or in pairs. In the summer, partridges consume insects, green leaves, and buds. In the winter, the bird typically makes its home in fields of grain crops and consumes a variety of waste grain, including corn, sunflowers, and wheat.

Between May and July, males and females pair up for mating. During the breeding season, it is not unusual for males to be more hostile toward one another. Females lay eggs on low surfaces in areas lined with grass. The partridge is known for its large nest size, and it has the ability to lay as many as 22 eggs in a season. Typically, a hen will lay anywhere from 10 to 18 eggs. A partridge’s eggs take less than four weeks to hatch. After two weeks, the chicks are capable of flight.

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    • Sunflowers are part of a grey partridge's diet.
      By: Smileus
      Sunflowers are part of a grey partridge's diet.