The gray partridge is a representative of the order kuroobraznyh, family pheasant. Ornithologists believe that this species was formed about two and a half million years ago. Partridge was a good nutritional option for the ancient man. Her meat was valued and considered a delicacy. It was the taste qualities that made the partridge attractive for human hunting.
Partridge - how to recognize it?
A gray partridge is often called a wild hen. The name is associated with both the appearance and consonant whine with poultry. Her head is small and painted in ocher color. The breast has lighter shades - from yellow to light brown.
The bird has a round gray-colored front and a dark pattern on the back. On the abdomen you can see an ornament resembling a horseshoe, and the partridges are decorated with brown stripes. An interesting fact: you will not see a pattern in the form of a horseshoe in young individuals, because it appears in sexually mature females, ready to breed. The tail, like the muzzle, has a reddish tint, and the legs and beak are almost dark. Partridge is characterized by a small size of 25-35 centimeters. Her weight reaches half a kilogram, and she can swing wings by as much as 50 centimeters.
If the partridge is a young individual, then it can be recognized by the color of the strips, which are located along the body. Their color is dark gray. Determine the male or female can be on the shade of plumage. Males look brighter, and females give out a reddish plumage on their tail. Partridges can also be recognized by the sounds they make. Their chirping is the quacking of chickens, and the sounds of the males resemble the crowing of domestic cocks.
Partridges almost do not fly, and their favorite place is on the ground, among dense vegetation. It is in the grass that she can feel most secure. Due to its strong legs, she can quickly move among dense plantings. In case of danger, the bird can take advantage of the wings, but this happens extremely rarely.
Where do the birds live?
The favorite places of partridges for settlement are steppes, fields, plains, which have dense vegetation, the presence of shrubs and ravines. Often partridges choose as a delicacy potatoes, oats or millet that are grown on farms, so the birds are frequent guests there. In autumn, partridges move to forest belts. Also partridges can be found in deforestation areas, on plains or in mountainous areas.
Gray partridges do not like to change their habitats, so almost all their life they live in the same territory. To change the habitat of the partridge can only in case of lack of food. But the change of residence is very bad wags on the birds. Finding a new home makes them fearful. Partridges live in flocks throughout the autumn and winter, and in summer they form pairs for breeding and build their nests, each pair in its own area.
Types of partridges
Partridges are divided into three types:
Gray and bearded partridges are very similar, often these species combine. They, by the way, are most demanded among hunters, therefore their quantity promptly decreases. The Central Asian partridge lives in the territory of Tibet. Her color is significantly different from fellow. Head with white feathers and two black specks. The chest of a bird is covered with black stripes. This species breeds well and their number is stable.
Feeding of gray partridges
Partridges eat vegetable food: inflorescences, roots, seeds, beetles, caterpillars and larvae can also be included in their diet. As described above, their strong legs allow you to dig the ground and get yourself a living.
The most difficult period for partridges is winter. It is very difficult to find food under a thick layer of snow. Here and there is a transition from a pair stay in a residence in a flock. Partridges lodge near the person, near fields where it is possible to regale on grains from the harvested harvest.
Young partridges prefer insects. They feed in the early morning, since they are hiding from possible danger in the thick grass during the day and in the evening.
The mating season in birds begins in the April-May month. If a pair is formed, they will be together for the entire period of their life. To lure the female, the male dissolves his plumage and begins to perform a mating dance, while making sounds similar to a crow. If the female pays attention to the male, then she becomes his second half.
Then a couple begins to twist their nest. The place must be protected from evil eyes. It is located in the tall grass near the bushes. The nest is created in a recess where plants and soft grass are laid out neatly. Its width reaches 20 centimeters, and its depth is about 7 centimeters. They warm their nest with leaves of trees, down, grass and feathers. The females of the gray partridge are quite prolific and endure from 10 to 25 eggs at a time. The eggs are gray-brown in color with a pointed end. Hatching lasts 23 days.
The appearance of chicks occurs in early June. Hatching chicks adapt quite easily and the survival rate is very high. From the first day the chicks begin to active. During maturation, the male and female together grow them. The head of the family can both hatch eggs and defend their children from enemies. It is not uncommon for a male to die in a fight with an adversary, saving his offspring.
The partridge transforms from a chick into an adult in 4 months, grows to the size of an adult bird in 1.5 months after birth, and at two weeks of age it can fly to decent distances. The opportunity to multiply appears in 12 months.
If one of the parents dies, the family moves to the second, if the chicks remain orphans, then another family takes care of them.
Who are afraid of partridges
The enemies for partridges in natural conditions are:
- Birds of prey: kite, owl, gyrfalcon.
- Predatory animals of small and medium sizes: fox, ferret, scribe.
- Animals living near humans: rat, cat.
Partridges can live for 10 years if they are not in danger, but in natural habitat they are a tasty treat for predator animals, so their lifespan ranges from 4-5 years.
Interesting facts about bird behavior
Steppe chickens are most active in the morning and evening. It is related to the search for food. Partridges do not like to fly, so they behave very quietly and carefully so as not to catch the eye of a predator. If the threat of attack is close, the bird flies low, travels a few hundred meters, and then skillfully hides in thick grass.
When it starts to get cold, the steppe hens are grouped in several individuals (5-10), choose in-depth places hidden from the wind - and thus spend the night. When a lot of snow falls, partridges make a hole in the snow and spend the night there, warming each other. Also, a gray partridge can dig a tunnel in the snow with a recess resembling a separate room in which it successfully spends the night.
Breeding partridges on the farm has become quite profitable and popular occupation. To do this, it is necessary to equip a poultry yard at home. It is necessary to avoid cells, because a partridge is a free bird accustomed to space. But we must remember that she is not a chicken and can fly very well through an open-air cage.
In order for the bird to breed, you need to take care of sufficient coverage of its habitat. Also, the place should be as close as possible to the natural environment, i.e. the presence of branches, shrubs welcome.
Take care of the formation of steam, as in natural conditions. If the female is nervous, pecking at the male, then it should be replaced.
If you observe the living conditions, nutrition and reproduction of partridges, growing them at home can bring you considerable profit, since poultry meat contains a small amount of carbohydrates and is in demand in the restaurant business.
Protection of the gray partridge
Partridge is a very attractive food for many predators and often it does not live half of its life, so you need to take care of it and save this species. This species is not listed in the red book, as it is believed that because of their unique ability to carry a large number of eggs at a time, they can restore their numbers themselves.
This article has already described that gray partridges are rapidly losing their number in the animal world. Even a flock of 35 individuals with their fertility cannot provide a constant number of its members.
Measures that are used as a guard for gray partridges:
- The hunting of steppe chickens is prohibited.
- When harvesting, leave ears intact in the territory bordering on shrubs and ravines.
- They catch stray animals (rats).
- Use harmless fertilizers.
The gray partridge has long since been food for humans and, despite thousands of years, this species has survived, and to this day lives next door to us. Only a person can have a positive impact on the conservation of the number of this species.
The gray partridge lives in the southern regions of Russia, as well as in many European countries - in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, etc. Meadows, ravines covered with shrubs, fields are the main places where this bird prefers to settle. You can also meet her in swampy places, if there are trees with islets rising above the water. Avoiding a dense forest, the partridge settles on the edges of the forest, in small groves, everywhere, where there are bushes that serve as a reliable shelter for these birds.
A feature of the gray partridge is their attachment to one place of residence. Favorite territory becomes for them a permanent place of residence. Here they feed, build nests, hatch chicks, which, in turn, spend their entire lives right there.
Habits and behaviors
The gray partridge spends most of its life on earth. Photos of these birds, captured in flight, is rare. Although they fly pretty well, they prefer to flee from their enemies. A good disguise is the gray color of birds, thanks to which they blend well with the surrounding area. These birds are able to hide perfectly, using any deepening in the soil. A surprising feature of the partridges is their ability to swim. Sometimes you can observe how, escaping from enemies, they easily swim over the reservoir with a whole brood.
The gray partridge is a very intelligent and cautious bird that can sense the approaching danger from a distance. These birds are quite peaceful. Only in situations where you have to defend your territory and nest, can males encounter in a fight. But on the other hand, these self-sacrificing birds are capable of taking under their wing alien chicks, which for some reason are orphaned. Partridges are very good and caring parents, carefully guarding brood.
Chicks in partridges may be more than two dozen, all of them of different ages. The reason is that the female lays only one egg per day, immediately starting to incubate.
In flocks, these birds gather only closer to winter, and with the onset of spring they break up into pairs again.
These include almost all four-legged predators, including stray dogs and cats. They systematically comb through meadows and steppes, looking for nests where they can profit from eggs and chicks. Partridges and birds of prey are constantly pursued. Hawks, kites, crows, sparrows prey on both young and adult partridges.
Another danger poachers poaching birds using a variety of prohibited methods. For these reasons, the gray partridge is today on the verge of extinction. The Red Book does not yet include these birds in its list, but hunting organizations should organize measures for the protection of partridges.
Features breeding at home
Catching partridges are engaged in order to obtain dietary food - eggs and meat. There are no particular difficulties with this, since these birds easily adapt to new conditions of housing and are rather unpretentious. They have very good immunity and are able to tolerate even cold. But from infectious diseases are still not insured.
Danger lurks them from the side of predators. To protect the partridges from the hawk, the kite and others who want to feast on tender meat, it is imperative to create a protective shelter in the form of an aviary or shrubs planted on the site.
Home cultivation of a gray partridge assumes obligatory arrangement of the suitable room. Its size should correspond to the number of birds contained. So, for one square meter of them should not be more than three pieces. For an overnight stay, an enclosed space is usually equipped (barn, log cabin). The floor is covered with straw and all the cracks are carefully filled, since the gray partridge is very sensitive to drafts. Under the ceiling, it is worthwhile to stretch the net, because, while flying, birds can hit the wooden flooring and get injured.
Like all other birds, partridges love fresh air. Therefore, the presence of high enclosures covered with a grid is required. Inside them are placed bushes, arranged sheaves, Christmas trees, which will serve the birds as a shelter. In order to be able to hide from the weather, make a small canopy, closed on one side. In the aviary should be drinking bowls, feeders, containers with sand.
Having become accustomed in the wild to a certain type of food, the gray partridge at home requires a slightly different feed than the rest of the bird.
The diet of these birds depends largely on the time of year. Thus, in the winter period, it is considered the most suitable mixture consisting of grain feed (25 g), vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage (9 g), minced meat or cottage cheese (2 g) with the addition of vitamins and mineral supplements. Partridges are very fond of berries cranberries, mountain ash, viburnum. So you should take care and stock them up for the winter.
A month before the birds start laying eggs, they are transferred to a special diet intended for the breeding period. It includes more carrots, greens, vitamins. In addition, fish and meat and bone meal, fodder yeast, chalk or shells are added to the feed. Twice a month, dilute water to a light pink color with potassium permanganate.
It is necessary to feed the birds 2 times a day - in the morning and after lunch. The amount of feed should be so much that it is eaten without residue, otherwise its qualities will be lost. Approximately 30 g per day is eaten by one bird. The gray partridge is not very willing to eat boiled potatoes, beets, barley grains, oats, as well as wheat bread. Feeders should be placed under a canopy, sheltering them from the sun and rain.
Partridge starts laying eggs in May. The egg is usually up to 33 mm long, has a pear-shaped shape and is colored greenish-brown. Prepare the nest in advance from an old basket or a high box with a size of 30x30 cm, so that the chicks subsequently could not jump out of it. The bottom is covered with straw or hay. It is necessary to install such a nest in a dry, ventilated room, where all the cracks and openings through which rats, cats or ferrets can penetrate are pre-filled.
The period of incubation of chicks from 21 to 24 days continues. Chicks are born very independent, immediately begin to explore the world, starting to run, barely having time to dry.
A day after all the chicks hatch, they are transplanted together with the mother in a cage consisting of two compartments. In one place the hen with chicks, and the other, in the form of a cage covered with a grid without a bottom, is used to carry the chicks out into the street when the weather permits. The cage is set among low grass, enabling the birds to grow in conditions as close as possible to natural ones. They are learning to independently look for insects, worms and other food. On hot days, the cage must be shaded from the sun.
The menu for chicks on the first day of life consists of a hard-boiled yolk, with the addition of finely chopped nettle greens, cabbage, dandelion and yarrow to the second feeding. The next day, add some white bread in the form of crumbs to this mixture. Gradually, the diet includes ground lean meat, fresh cottage cheese, gruel of eggs and milk. Ant eggs are very helpful. They feed babies at least twice a day.
A month later, when the chicks mature and can already fly, they are separated from the hen.
Partridges belong to the family of pheasant, subfamilies of partridge and grouse, including more than 22 genera, each of which has from one to 46 subspecies. However, despite the species diversity of all birds, sedentary lifestyle combines, inconspicuous color, small size and incredible endurance in extreme conditions.
The appearance of almost all partridges is the same: it is a small bird in size. Their height reaches 35 cm, but rarely higher. Вес составляет полкило-киллограмм. За исключением белых куропаток, весящих до 1800 грамм. Верхнее оперение как правило в серо-коричневой гамме. Может присутствовать узор из черных повторяющихся пятен в области крыльев. У некоторых видов есть шпоры на ногах, у других они отсутствуют. Половой диморфизм выражен слабо, но самки имеют окрас бледнее.
Character and way of life
Partridges lead a terrestrial lifestyle, they feed mainly on vegetable food. Nesting prefer on the ground, like many pheasants. Diligently hide their homes in the thickets of abundant foliage and shrubs.
The great popularity of partridge meat among predators made this bird very cautious. Horses move around, looking around, listening and eyeing whether there is any danger around. As with most pheasants, flying is not the greatest strength of the partridges. But running opposite is very good.
It is interesting! These birds are monogamous in choosing a partner. Each time during the mating season, they find their pair and nest. Madagascar Subspecies Exception
Most of the life of the partridge trying not to attract attention. They move very quietly, calmly. By the winter they accumulate a rather impressive fat reserve, which allows them to leave their shelters only in urgent cases. Lead daytime life. The search for food takes a short time, no more than three hours a day.
In the food of partridges prefer seeds, grains, berries, buds, leaves and roots. All that vegetable diet, which will be in the zone of their habitat. They love to feast on insects on occasion. In winter, these birds feed on frozen berries, winter crops, and kidney residues with seeds.
Nutrition and behavior
The gray partridge prefers to eat food that is of plant origin. Chooses cereals, young shoots and leaves for daily consumption. In the harshest months of the year, namely in the winter, the diet consists of green particles of winter grain.
Partridges on a par with other representatives of the chicken family help agriculture and forestry - they eat harmful insects, slugs and snails. Insects and their larvae can be called a favorite delicacy. Birds easily find harmful turtles and make them their prey, that is, food. They bring undeniable benefits because they eat weeds.
Early in the morning and in the evening the partridges go in search of food every day. During the day and during the overnight stay they always hide from predators in dense thickets.
Blue birds lead a settled way of life. They can leave their favorite places only in search of food. In the process of wandering, partridges behave uncharacteristically - they become too fearful. In the autumn and in the winter live, falling down in the big packs.
When snow begins to melt in the spring and mating time is near, the birds occupy parts of the nesting area in pairs. It was at this time that the voices of the males are heard, which arrange battles for the right to possess a female. They seek to strike the opponent using claws and beak.
Partridges fly low above the ground, flapping their wings loudly. These terrestrial birds often run between bushes, dig in the ground or bathe in dust. If you scare the flock, it falls off with a place with such loud sounds that can become frightening for a simple man in the street. Partridge usually flies, strictly adhering to a straight line, makes it quickly and sit down close.
They prefer to build their nests in a quiet place, using grass and branches found for their arrangement. Bird for nesting likes to choose fields and dry meadows, especially those that are adjacent to shrubs, ravines and ravines, forest edges. On the territory of the endless steppe, its nests are found where there are overgrown bushes or weeds, in island forests, young forest plantations.
By voice, birds look like ordinary chickens. Females make a characteristic quaggling like chickens, while males produce sounds resembling a "cock-crow."
To live partridge chooses the most open areas of the fields with beams and ravines, meadows, steppes. This bird loves when there is a lot of space for living and free movement, therefore its nests are never located in the landings or the forest belt. This is also connected with the nutritional diet - the partridge chooses fields with crops of buckwheat, oats and millet.
The gray partridge usually lives in many parts of Europe, it can always be found in the western part of Asia. She manages to be seen in Canada and North America. The southern regions of Western Siberia and Kazakhstan are considered to be the natural habitat of the bird.
The gray partridge is spread from the British Isles and northern Portugal to the territory east of the Altai. The eastern boundary of its habitat is the Ob River. In the north of the European part of Russia, the bird is found almost to the White Sea. In Western Siberia, the bird lives in birch pegs, with high and thick grass. In the south, the nest of partridges is actually seen in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Tarbagatai. There are also in northern Iran and Asia Minor.
Partridges live almost settled in the south, in steppe and semi-desert places. But in the northeastern and northern parts, where usually a lot of snow falls, birds are forced to fly to the steppes of Ciscaucasia, southern Ukraine, and Central Asia. Gray partridges and sometimes go to Siberia - in order to safely winter. With the onset of autumn, birds of this species can always be found on the shores of Lake Baikal, which is western.
Video "Gray partridge against magpie"
A flock of gray partridges foraged for food in the snow. Look what happened when they were joined by forty.
Description of the appearance of the gray partridge with photos
In order to clearly present what a gray partridge looks like, it is necessary to study its photo and description. The appearance of the bird has a number of characteristic features, namely:
- dense round body,
- small ocher head,
- gray-blue feathers with a bright pattern on the back,
- throat and cheeks bright color,
- dark brown spot on the abdomen, in the shape of a horseshoe,
- red tail feathers,
- brown stripes on the sides,
- beak and legs of a dark shade,
- length from beak to tail is from 28 to 33 cm,
- body weight 300-450 g,
- wingspan - 45-49 cm.
Birds are sedentary and rarely leave their habitat. An individual can decide to take such a step only in the case of danger or when there is a shortage of food in the previous area of residence. But such movements adversely affect the bird, it becomes fearful and nervous.
In winter, partridges try to keep close to the places where people live. They can be fond of courtyards and buildings, as well as densely growing shrubs.
Interesting! It is possible to recognize partridges not only by their appearance, but also by the characteristic quacking of females and the loud voice of males, the sounds that he makes distantly resemble a rooster “crow”.
In autumn and winter, the gray partridge prefers to lead a pack life, 30–40 birds each, and in the spring, during the mating season, individuals are divided into pairs. Each bird "family" chooses its plot for living and arranging the nest.
Partridges of this variety tend to spend their lives where they were born. Being afraid of predatory animals and birds, they try to keep quiet and not attract attention. This is also due to the fact that this type of partridge does not like to fly.
In case of danger, the bird moves several hundred meters in flight, and then hides in bushes or grass. Due to this feature, the gray partridge has developed, strong limbs and is able to run very fast. And when flying, the bird prefers not to climb high.
Most of the time individuals spend searching for food, and they are most active in the morning and evening hours. Day and night, the partridges hide in shelter. In winter, they get together in flocks and hide for the night under the snow, burrowing into it almost with their heads, and snuggling tightly against each other to warm themselves.
Males of this species are monogamous, and they choose a pair for their whole life. The selection process is as follows: the male, fluffing the plumage, gives a voice and makes "dancing" movements. That female, which will pay attention to these efforts first, and will be his chosen one.
The diet of this bird is mainly vegetable food. It feeds on seeds, roots and buds. However, do not neglect the partridges and bugs, caterpillars, spiders and larvae. The sharp, tenacious legs of birds are capable of obtaining food by digging out the top layer of soil.
Attention! In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for birds to find their food. This is due to the fact that various chemicals are used to process the fields, from which a large number of insects perish. Partridges are forced to keep closer to the fields planted with winter crops, or to eat grains left over from harvest.
Partridge hardest in winter. To prevent death from starvation, birds unite in flocks and try to keep closer to human habitation.
Gray partridges belong to the 5th category, this is a species that has a recovering number. This is due to the fecundity of partridges, whose females are capable of bringing more than 20 eggs at a time. Otherwise, the view would be doomed to extinction.
Although these birds are found in many regions, the number of individuals in flocks is low, from 30 to 40 partridges. According to the data from 2000–2003, there were 1.6–2.6 individuals per 100 hectares of land, and in the future there is a clear downward trend in this indicator.
Factors such as weather and climatic conditions, average annual rainfall, the development of agriculture and applied fertilizers affect the density of a species in a given region. Often, the chemicals with which the fields are treated turn out to be poisonous, not only for insects and rodents, but also for birds.
Even the high fecundity of the gray partridge does not save the view from extermination.
As measures that can prevent the disappearance of the species, take the following actions:
- everywhere prohibit the hunting of gray partridges,
- leave uncompressed bread near shrubs and ravines,
- produce stray animals.