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A photo of a Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca)
Rock Partridge

Rock Partridge

Alectoris graeca

The Rock Partridge, known scientifically as Alectoris graeca, is a plump gamebird belonging to the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It exhibits a light brown back, a grey breast, and a buff belly. The face is white, adorned with a distinctive black gorget, and the flanks are streaked with rufous. Notably, it has red legs, adding a splash of color to its otherwise muted tones.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Rock Partridge, look for its white face contrasted with a black gorget, which sets it apart from similar species. Its back is greyer compared to the Chukar Partridge, and it has a white, not yellowish, foreneck. The gorget is sharply defined, distinguishing it from the Red-legged Partridge. In flight, observe its rounded wings as it prefers to run but will take to the air for short distances if pressed.

Habitat

The Rock Partridge favors dry, open, and often hilly terrains. It is a resident breeder, meaning it does not typically migrate and can be found in these areas year-round.

Distribution

This species is native to southern Europe, with its range extending from Serbia and Albania to Greece and Bulgaria. It is also found in the Alps from France to western Croatia and has an isolated population in Sicily.

Behaviour

The Rock Partridge is known for its preference to run rather than fly when disturbed. However, it is capable of flying short distances if necessary. It is a ground-dwelling bird that nests in a simple ground scrape.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Rock Partridge includes a distinctive and noisy "ga-ga-ga-ga-chakera-chakera-chakera."

Breeding

During the breeding season, the Rock Partridge lays a clutch of 5–21 eggs in a scantily lined ground scrape, indicative of its ground-nesting habits.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Rock Partridge is varied, consisting of a wide range of seeds complemented by some insect food.

Conservation Status

The Rock Partridge is currently classified as Near Threatened due to habitat loss and over-hunting. While many populations remain stable, the Sicilian population is of particular concern and warrants close monitoring.

Taxonomy

The Rock Partridge is closely related to the Chukar, Przevalski's, and Philby's Partridges, forming a superspecies. It has four recognized subspecies: A. g. graeca, A. g. orlandoi, A. g. saxatilis, and A. g. whitakeri. The subspecies A. g. orlandoi is of doubtful validity and may derive from Albanian A. g. graeca. These birds likely became isolated in the Apennines during the last ice age and are evolving towards subspecies status.

Rock Partridge Sounds

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