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What is a Rock Partridge?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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A rock partridge is a gamebird with grey and brown markings and a rounded body shape. The scientific name for this species is Alectoris graeca, and it belongs to the same family, Phasianidae, as the pheasant. The primary native area of this bird is southwestern Europe in hilly or rocky locales. It usually lives in social groups called coveys. The rock partridge is a diurnal species that seldom flies and breeds in the spring.

The rock partridge has a white face with a reddish colored beak and a distinctive band of black feathers marking its throat. It has a grey breast, an extremely pale tan colored belly, and a light brown back. There are reddish brown streaks on its lower sides, and it has red legs. It has a plump, rounded appearance sometimes referred to as rotund. Its song is noisy and loud, sounding like "ga, ga, ga, chakera, chakera."

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As a gamebird, the rock partridge is often hunted in the areas where it is located. In ancient times, the meat was said to be helpful for invalids, and the eggs, inside parts and meat were also used for magic and medicinal purposes. The native area of the rock partridge is southwestern Europe, particularly the Alps, Italy, and through the Balkans to Greece. The preferred habitat tends to be in the mountains, rocky areas like cliffs and hills, with some brushy meadows. It is still found in these areas today, although in some spots the population is decreasing due to habitat loss and overhunting.

The rock partridge is a social bird, preferring to live in coveys that can range from several members up to 200 or more. It is diurnal in nature, meaning it is active during the daytime, and tends to do most of its feeding throughout the day. Its diet consists mainly of seeds and small insects, and it usually hops along the ground while foraging. It very rarely flies and prefers to run when threatened, but it will fly short distances when necessary.

During the late spring breeding season, pairs of rock partridges are often monogamous. The male wins the female with a courtship display and protects her during the breeding process. They nest in shallow, scraped out depressions on the ground with very little lining, and the female lays five to 21 eggs. The female incubates the eggs for 24 days, and the baby birds are able to move around soon after hatching. The chicks are able to fly after just a few weeks, and they grow to full adult size in 12 weeks.

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