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Red-legged Partridge

Red-legged Partridge
Both sexes: Grey-brown bird with black and white marking on head and flanks.

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:

  • Upperparts are uniform grey-brown.
  • Head is boldly marked with a white stripe above the eye, black stripe through the eye, a white chin and throat with a black necklace.
  • Flanks are boldly marked with black, chestnut and white bars.
  • Breast is blue-grey.
  • Red bill, legs and eye ring.

Juveniles are similar to juvenile Grey Partridges.

Red-legged Partridge
Red-legged Partridge
Red-legged Partridge
Red-legged Partridge

Scientific Name Alectoris rufa
Length 32-35 cm (13-14")
Wing Span 45-50 cm (18-20")
Weight 500-550 g (18-20 oz)
Breeding Pairs 170000
Present All Year
Status Green

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


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


© Jean Roché,


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.


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


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


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.