GRAY PARTRIDGE – (Perdix perdix)
The Gray partridge – also called the ‘Hungarian partridge’ – is a plump game bird native to Eurasia, but successfully introduced to many other countries around the world, including Canada. It measures approximately 30 cm (12 in.) long, and has a grey chest and back. The short tail and round wings are also grey but are reddish-brown-barred. There are also fine white streaks on the wings. The face and throat is reddish-brown and the belly white. In the males there is a large dark brown patch on the belly, and sometimes also in the females. The male also has a red line under the eye. The bill is light grey, and the legs dark grey. Sexes are similar, and juveniles are brown-yellow and have no belly markings. When flying the bird’s wings make a whirring sound.
The Latin name ‘Perdix’ means ‘partridge’.
This species of bird eats mainly seeds, although the young need insects to develop. The grey partridge has one of the largest clutches in any bird species – females can lay up to 22 eggs! In the winter birds are foraging in small groups called ‘coveys’.
The gray partridge breeds on PEI, and is a year-round resident. It is fairly common throughout all seasons. It has been introduced in the Maritimes in the 1920s. The main distribution range of this partridge in Canada covers the Prairies.
Conservation: numbers in this bird species have known a marked declined over the last few decades, but it is still not considered has threatened.