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A photo of a Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Red-legged Partridge

Red-legged Partridge

Alectoris rufa

The red-legged partridge, Alectoris rufa, is a plump gamebird belonging to the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is colloquially known as the French partridge, setting it apart from the English or grey partridge. Exhibiting a light brown back, grey breast, and buff belly, this bird is easily recognized by its white face with a striking black gorget. The flanks are adorned with rufous streaks, and it stands on characteristically red legs. When startled, it may choose to run, but it can also take to the air with rounded wings for short distances.

Identification Tips

Adults display a sandy-brown upper body, a pinkish-buff belly, and a pale grey breast. A black gorget with bold rufous and black flank bars, a cream throat, pink legs, and a red bill and eye ring are distinctive features. The eye is encircled by a bright red ring, adding to its striking appearance.

Habitat

The red-legged partridge favors dry lowlands for breeding, such as farmland and open stony areas. It nests on the ground and can be found cohabiting with wild rabbits.

Distribution

Originally from southwestern Europe, including France, Iberia, and northwest Italy, the red-legged partridge has been introduced and naturalized in parts of England and Wales. It forms flocks outside the breeding season and is a non-migratory terrestrial species.

Behaviour

This bird is known for its preference to run rather than fly when disturbed. However, it is capable of short flights if necessary. It is a sociable species, forming flocks when not breeding.

Song & Calls

The red-legged partridge vocalizes with a distinctive three-syllable call, which can be phonetically described as "ka-chu-chu."

Breeding

The species is known to breed in dry lowland areas, laying eggs in a ground nest. It has the remarkable ability to breed two clutches simultaneously.

Similar Species

The rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) is very similar in appearance and occupies southeastern Europe, replacing the red-legged partridge there.

Diet and Feeding

Primarily seed-eating, the red-legged partridge's diet also includes insects, which are particularly important for the protein needs of the young.

Conservation status

The red-legged partridge is currently classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN, with concerns about its decline across its range due to habitat loss and overhunting.

Red-legged Partridge Sounds


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Red-legged Partridge Fun Facts

Did you know?
The scientific name of the Red-legged Partidge translates to 'red farmyard chicken'.

Red-legged Partridges on Birda

Sightings

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