Gray Partridge (Hungarian Partridge, Gray Francolin)
The Gray Partridge is also known as the Hungarian Partridge or the Gray Francolin and is a small bird similar to the chicken. A gray neck and chest feathers and a rusty red head characterize it. It has a brown, rust, white and gray color on its tail feathers and on its short, round wings. Males often have a dark brown U-shaped patch on their stomach which is smaller or absent in females. Adults have a body length of between 30-35cm/12-14in. A similar species with which the Gray Partridge could be confused is the Chukar, which also has a rufous tail, but which has a red bill and feet and a black collar.
The Gray Partridge lives in open areas, farmlands, grasslands and brush. It is not a native bird to North America but was introduced as a game bird. It originally existed in Europe and Asia. It is now widespread in British Columbia, parts of south central Canada and the north central United States.
The Gray Partridge mostly feeds on weed seeds, grains and green plants but can also feed on insects.
Gray Partridge meat is dark, lean meat that has an earthy taste, similar to quail and pheasant meat.
Gray Partridges are non-territorial during the non-breeding season and live in large groups or coveys. Males can be aggressive towards each other during mating season. Males and females pair up in the spring for mating. Gray Partridges produce some of the largest known clutches of any bird, laying between 10-20 eggs per brood. They typically nest on the ground among the dense cover of a hedgerow, shelterbelt, or brushy roadside, although they have been known to nest in the open. While the female builds the nest, a shallow scrape lined with grass and leaves, the male stands guard. The female incubates her eggs for three weeks and the both parents take care of the young but the young feed themselves. The chicks begin to fly when they are about two weeks old. Gray Partridge produce a loud, hoarse “kar-wit, kar-wit” vocalization.
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