[order] Galliformes | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Alectoris rufa | [UK] Red-legged Partridge | [FR] Perdrix rouge | [DE] Rothuhn | [ES] Perdiz Roja | [IT] Pernice rossa | [NL] Rode Patrijs

Rode Patrijs determination

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The Red-legged Partridge is a gaudier bird than the Grey Partridge with a strikingly black and white face and throat with pronounced black and white barring on its flanks. In flight though it is actually plainer, with unmottled grey-brown upper-parts. Red-legs can be told from Rock Partridges, Chuckars and their hybrids by the extensive black-speckled gorgets around their breasts.

Less clearly defined than congeners, spanning diverse climatic zones of south-west Palearctic from Mediterranean to humid temperate, but avoiding boreal, oceanic, and arid regions, and preferring lowland to montane. Stops short at fringes of forests and wetlands, but can perch on trees and swim on occasion. More adaptable than other Alectoris partridges to variety of soils¾from dry and stony or rocky to chalky, sandy, or even silty and clayey¾and of land uses, from rough, intractable, dry mountain foothills and slopes to marginal cultivation, vineyards, open woodland or orchards, garigue, arable fields of cereals or root crops, and many kinds of pasture, including even drained marshes. In alpine or other mountain regions will ascend to c. 2000 m in south of range, but in north much lower, usually on plains or gentle uplands, and frequently down to coast.

Alectoris rufa is endemic to Europe, where it is confined to south-western parts of the continent. Its European breeding population is very large (>2,000,000 pairs), but underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although populations were stable in Portugal and Italy during 1990-2000, the species continued to decline across most of its European range—including in its Spanish stronghold—and underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Declining.

Predominantly seeds, leaves, roots; insects much less important (most in late spring and summer). Adults dig with Bill rather than scratch for food with feet; techniques otherwise similar to Partridge.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 3,900,000-8,900,000 individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (Fuller et al. 2000, del Hoyo et al. 1994), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Eggs are laid in England from late April to May. In France from May to mid-June and in Portugal from end April and early May. Nest is built on the ground, usually in vegetation, and sheltered by bush or tussock. The nest is a shallow scrape, lined small amounts of vegetation. Clutch ranges from 10 to 16 eegs which are incubated for 23 to 24 days, by female only if 1 clutch is laid, but, if clutches, by male only on second brood. The young are capable of precocious flight at c. 10 days and become full-size in 50-60 days.

Resident or sedentary in natural range (Italy, France, Iberia). In Spain, some nesting on higher hills (2000-2500 m) descend to lower altitudes to avoid worst of winter weather. British feral population also resident.