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Red-legged Partridge

Red-legged Partridge Red-legged Partridge Both Sexes
Grey-brown bird with black and white marking on head and flanks.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Alectoris rufa
Length: 32-35 cm (13-14")
Wing Span: 45-50 cm (18-20")
Weight: 500-550 g (18-20 oz)
Breeding Pairs: 170 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green

Description

The Red-legged Partridge was introduced to Britain in the 1600s by Charles II, having brought them from France to provide target practice for guns. They are now resident and outnumber our native Grey Partridge.

Males and females are alike and are very attractive game birds:

Juveniles are similar to juvenile Grey Partridges.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song
  Quicktime mp3

The male's song is a loud, rhythmic chuffing call: "chuck-chukka-chuff".

Feeding

Red-legged Partridge have a similar diet to Grey Partridge, chiefly leaves, roots and seeds of grasses, cereals and weeds, and occasionally insects especially when feeding chicks.

Nesting

They usually nest among bushes in scrub, arable farmland, or hedgerows. Like the Quail and Grey Partridge, the nest is a shallow hollow on the ground and lined with plant material.

Red-legged Partridge are peculiar in that the female may build two nests, lay a clutch in each and then the male and female take care of each brood simultaneously and independently. The eggs are smooth and glossy, yellowish-white with reddish-buff or greyish markings, and about 41 mm by 31 mm.

The nestlings are precocial (see feathers) and led away from the nest shortly after hatching. The wing feathers grow quickly and they can flutter quite early. The brood remain together until the following breeding season.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
late-April 1 10-16 23-25 -

Movements

British birds are sedentary, moving usually no more than a few kilometres from their natal grounds (place of hatching).

Conservation

The decline in the Grey Partridge is often blamed on the Red-legged Partridge but there is no evidence to support this. In fact, when both species occur together, the Grey Partridge are usually in greater numbers.

My Garden

I have not seen Red-legged Partridge in the neighbourhood, though they have supposedly been seen in the local woods.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
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