Grey Partridge

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Scientific name: Perdix perdix

Other common names: Gray Partridge; Hungarian Partridge; English Partridge

The basics:
The Grey Partridge has been widely regarded for its tolerance of open, dry, even cold climates that don't offer much game possibilities from other species. As a result, it has been introduced to the northern United States, along the Canadian border, and into Canada, where it seems to be thriving in flat agricultural lands that wouldn't be usable by native species. Despite the success of these introductions, it is worth noting that many people consider Grey Partridges to be a challenging bird to breed in captivity.

Like all partridges, these birds are tasty, making them attractive to poachers as well as to legal hunters. With potentially millions of birds remaining in the wild, they are not threatened with extinction of the species, but they have been eliminated in some areas and may now be extinct in Portugal and Liechtenstein. One subspecies has already been lost through hybridization with another.

Grey Partridges have a vaguely chicken-like profile, with strong legs that allow them to run on the ground. As the name suggests, these birds are mostly gray, with a mostly rust-colored head. Both male and female boast reddish or chestnut streaks on the flank, but the males possess a deep chestnut belly patch, which is much smaller or even absent altogether in the females.

Average weight:
325 - 600 grams (11.5 - 21 oz.)

2 - 5 years

Grey Patridges are reasonably tough partridges, but they are susceptible to the diseases that might impact any ground-nesting bird, especially one kept in a more crowded environment. Keep them and their home scrupulously clean. They can be especially susceptible to blackhead, a protozoan that causes kidney and liver damage. They can also pick up worms or Coccidiosis if they are not kept on a clean, dry floor. Larger operations have sometimes found it more practical to raise them on wire, although such a setting detracts somewhat from the beauty of the bird. Get a referral to a good avian or poultry veterinarian for the most up-to-date information.

Behavior / temperament:
In the wild, the handsome Grey Partridge has a reputation for being evasive and a challenge to the hunter. In captivity, they have also been known for being fast-flying birds that make escapes. Plan their housing accordingly. Many people report that their Grey Partridges are rather testy birds that need to be kept in pairs during the breeding season, to avoid fighting among themselves. Even trios of one male to two females have been problematic for some keepers.

Housing / diet:
How you house your Grey Partridges somewhat depends on their purpose. A pair or a single pet Grey Patridge can do just fine in a secure outdoor aviary, as long as this tasty bird is protected from potential predators. Birds raised for meat, eggs, or exhibition may be housed in cages in a well-ventilated birdroom or else in pens with some access to the outdoors. The pens may be more practical, since each pair will appreciate at least six by three feet of floor space. It is worth noting that if you start with very young birds, you must have rounded corners in the cage or brooder, not square ones. For whatever reason, young Grey Partridges are infamous for crowding into corners, smothering some of the birds.

Grey Partridges are frequently raised for hunting programs. These birds will need special pens, with plenty of space and cover, to allow them to acclimate to the weather and to develop their powers of flight. Partridges are tasty birds, so they also need to be protected from a large number of predators, from snakes to raccoons to various hawks and eagles. It is strongly recommended that you work with a more advanced hobbyist or even a professional breeder to make sure that you are providing a good habitat for your birds. If you free range your birds, learn how from an expert, or else you may just be putting out a food table for your local raptors.

Grey Partridges are adaptable foragers who seem to thrive on seeds and grains found in agricultural fields. The backbone of the diet is a high quality game bird or turkey crumble, but it should be supplemented with seeds (milky or sprouted as well as dry), chopped greens including deep green lettuces and chickweed, and chopped small fruit such as cherry tomatoes, grapes, and wild or cultivated berries. Clean water should be available to them at all times.

Written by Elaine Radford


classic game birds, heather uplands

Grey Partridge Health Tip

Grey Partridge

From DLlE Sep 2 2012 2:51PM


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