Red-Legged Partridge

Our annual visitors, the Red-Legged Partridges came pecking by outside our window last week. They were pecking the grass seeds and we had a good close-up view from our low set windows with deep window sills. Any movement from us would startle them, but all my plants in the window area conceal our presence. On I go to the Internet and gather information from various sites, then use my old trusty nature books. Gradually I piece it all together to help me record and understand these delightful birds.

The Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. It will have likely developed, like the pheasant, during the glacial periods of the Pleistocene era.

It is sometimes known as French Partridge, to distinguish it from the Grey or English Partridge. It was brought here from France in the 1770s and has become a successful breeder in the UK. Unlike the pheasant it cannot be farmed easily in preparation for the shooting season. Instead it flourishes in the wild. It is a popular gourmet bird for the restaurants, but I prefer to think our local birds are not easily spotted by the hunters.

This is a charming, amusing bird.and extremely handsome like the pheasant, its relation. It has bright red legs and red bill. The body is marked with shades of grey and brown broken by distinct cream and black. There are bold bars on its flanks with a chestnut coloured tail.

This bird is a successful breeder because the female lays two separate clutches of about 10 eggs, and the female incubates one nest and the male incubates the other. Within a month they hatch and the young birds fly two weeks later.

It is as if they know the shooting season has ended as between September and February they get busy breeding. They hide their nests in dense bracken or other thick cover. Partridges roost together. facing outward to watch for predators. They fly off at the earliest sign of trouble. Their group is called a ‘covey’. They run along together, pecking at what grass seeds and roots they can find.

The game bird rearers have found this bird difficult to breed, unlike the pheasant. Instead it has a reputation for increasing numbers around the UK being left to its own devices. The RSPB thus list it as a UK wild bird, unlike the pheasant (see earlier blog).

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
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