Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix)

Grey Partridge

[order] GALLIFORMES | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Perdix perdix | [UK] Grey Partridge | [FR] Perdrix grise | [DE] Rebhuhn | [ES] Perdiz Pardilla | [NL] Patrijs


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Perdix perdix EU w, wc
Perdix perdix armoricana w and s France
Perdix perdix canescens Turkey to the Caucasus and nw Iran
Perdix perdix hispaniensis ne Portugal and n Spain
Perdix perdix italica Italy
Perdix perdix lucida Finland to the Ural Mts. and n Caucasus
Perdix perdix perdix s Scandinavia and Britain to Bulgaria and Greece
Perdix perdix robusta Ural Mts. to sw Siberia and nw China
Perdix perdix sphagnetorum ne Netherlands, nw Germany

Physical charateristics

The Gray Partridge is a chunky bird, measuring approximately 13 inches. It is grayish-brown in color overall and has a gray bill. Both male and female have reddish bars and pale streaks crosshatched along their sides, and chestnut outer tail feathers. The male has an orange face and a dark patch on his belly in contrast to the female, which has a pale face and often lacks the belly patch.
Most of the year, Gray Partridges are found in small groups, although in the spring they are typically found in pairs or alone. Young remain with their parents through their first winter.
They often forage in tall grasses and can be difficult to spot.

Listen to the sound of Grey Partridge

[audio: Partridge.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 53 cm wingspan max.: 57 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 32 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 25 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 10  
      eggs max.: 20  


Eurasia : West, Westcentral


Gray Partridges live in flat, agricultural land with shrubby cover for nesting. They use steppe and cultivated areas in the steppe zones and can be found in some Ponderosa pine forests. Gray Partridges benefit from traditional farming practices, which maintain hedgerows and shelterbelts between fields


Gray Partridges produce some of the largest known clutches of any bird, laying between 10-20 eggs per brood. They typically nest on the ground among the dense cover of a hedgerow, shelterbelt, or brushy roadside, although they have been known to nest in the open. While the female builds the nest, a shallow scrape lined with grass and leaves, the male stands guard. The female incubates her large clutch, and both parents tend the hatchlings. Soon after hatching, the young leave the nest, following their parents to food sources and then feeding themselves.

Feeding habits

Foraging on the ground, Gray Partridges typically eat seeds, waste grain, leaves, and insects. In the fall and winter, their diet of seeds sometimes requires them to burrow into the snow to feed. In the spring they take advantage of green leaves and in the summer, insects. When first hatched, the young eat mainly insects.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
This partridge is originally a bird of the steppe, from Central Europe to Mongolia. It has become adapted to cultivation, and has consequently colonised much of Western Europe, from the Mediterranean regions to 65N in Scandinavia. Important populations survive in some regions, e.g. in France, but in most areas this species is undergoing a strong decrease following changes in agricultural practices. In some regions it is even on the verge of extinction, and two races have been included in Annex I. The race hispaniensis is restricted to the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula and the northern slopes of the Pyrenees. Its population is estimated at 2000-6000 breeding pairs, and is decreasing because of habitat changes, over-hunting and disturbance by tourism. The race italica is limited to central and southern Italy. It is currently very rare and probably on the verge of extinction. On top of the problems affecting the other races, it is threatened genetically also by introduction in its breeding area of nominate birds
Gray Partridges were first introduced in North America in the early 1900s. Today their population fluctuates, perhaps due to continued introductions, and, although they are hunted, predation and weather appear to have the greatest impact on their numbers.
Grey Partridge status Least Concern


Partridges are non-migratory except in most northern range, where movements south are known. East European population may move south due to harsh wheather conditions.

Distribution map

Grey Partridge distribution range map

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