Tuesday, 28 April 2015

B.O.T.D. Gray Partridge

Gray Partridge (Perdix perdix)

Native to western Eurasia, Gray Partridges were released in Canada in the early 1900s as game birds. Secretive and shy most of the year, the are rarely seen in the open. Watch for them in the morning or evening, when they venture onto quiet roads, or in winter, when they sometimes forage beneath rural bird feeders. When flushed a covey of will burst into flight, flapping furiously and dispersing in all directions, a tactic intended to confuse predators. Although Gray Partridges are relatively hardy birds, many parish in harsh weather, and some birds become trapped under layers of hardened snow while taking refuge from the cold.

The Gray Partridge has a high mortality rate and a short lifespan, but it makes up for these with its high reproductive capability. An average clutch size is about 16 eggs, and nests with more than 20 eggs are often found. When incubating her eggs, the female will sit tightly on her nest and risk being stepped on rather than attracting attention. 

Like other seed eating birds, the Gray Partridge regularly swallows small amounts of gravel to help crush hard seeds. The gravel accumulates in the bird's gizzard, a muscular pouch of the digestive. This bird was once known as "Hungarian Partridge," and coveys of Gray Partridges are still called "Huns" by many hunters and birding enthusiasts.

Reader's Digest Publications: Birds of Canada