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Grey Partridge

aka English Partridge, Common Partridge, Hungarian Partridge or Hun

Latin Name: Perdix perdix

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.

Richard Carter


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.

Animal Facts

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 later.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

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.

Behaviour: 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 off.

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.


See Also

BTO Bird Facts

Conserving the Grey Partridge


By: Tracey Park Section: Birds Key:
Page Ref: partridge_grey Topic: Wildlife and Animals Last Updated: 04/2009

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