Monday, 7 February 2011

Grey partridge

Perdix perdix

(Photo from Animal Photos)

Common name:

Order Galliformes
Family Phasianidae

This species breeds throughout Europe from the UK to Kazakhstan, extending north to Scandinavia, and with a patchy distribution in southern Europe. They have been successfully introduced to many parts of the world for shooting, including vast areas of North America.

Grey partridges are 28-32 cm long and have a wingspan of 45-48 cm. They weigh 340-450 g.

This species is mostly found in open farmland, but also on wasteland, moors, and sand dunes. Adults prefer to occupy open grass or vegetation, but tend to move their chicks into cereal crops.

Adults feed on grass, seeds and shoots. They also take some insects during the breeding season. The young feed completely on invertebrates such as sawflies, beetles and aphids for the first 2 weeks after hatching.

Grey partridges breed in April-September. The nest is a scrape in the ground lined with grass and leaves, usually hidden at the base of a hedge or clump of vegetation. There the female lays up to 20 olive-brown eggs, which she incubates alone for 20-25 days. The precocial chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and start hunting insects while escorted by their parents. After 16-19 days the chicks fledge and change into a mostly granivorous diet.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has suffered a marked decline in all parts of its native range owing to habitat loss and degradation caused by agricultural intensification and loss of insect prey caused by pesticides. Still, with a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 5-10 million, this species is not considered threatened at present.

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