[order] Galliformes | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Alectoris graeca | [UK] Rock Partridge | [FR] Perdrix bartavelle | [DE] Steinhuhn | [ES] Perdiz griega | [IT] Coturnice | [NL] Steenpatrijs

Steenpatrijs determination

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Size of Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) - L 35 cm- has snow-white chin, with regular and demarcated black frame which at bill-join reaches gape. Tied to high mountainous regions, mainly on rocky and craggy slopes. Feed on plants or invertebrates, depending of the season. Resident. Alectoris graeca whitakeri is difficult to distinguish from A.g. saxatilis, besides their separate range and paler plumage. This subspecies occurs down to sea-level. Feeds on plants and invertebrates. Resident.

The chukar inhabits open, rocky, dry mountain slopes, hillsides, or canyon walls from below sea level 3660 m elevation. Steep slopes appear to be preferred. Slope grade is usually over 7 percent with a rise of at least 60 m. The chukar is also found on open and flat deserts with sparse grasses and on barren plateaus. Nesting habitat is similar to foraging habitat: dry, rocky slopes with open, brushy cover, nesting chukars and chukar broods are normally found within 3 kilometers of water. Chukars use rocky slopes for shade and escape cover. The hottest part of the day is usually spent in shady cover. They roost on the ground beneath sagebrush or junipers and in the shelter of rock outcrops. They also roost in open rocky places; dense brush cover is not required and is probably avoided.

Alectoris graeca is endemic to Europe, occurring only in the Alps and mountainous parts of Italy and the Balkans. Its European breeding population is relatively small (<78,000 pairs), and underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although certain populations—notably sizeable ones in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece—were stable or increased during 1990-2000, the species continued to decline across most of its European range, and underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Declining.
This partridge inhabits mountainous regions. Being sedentary, it moves only in altitude according to the season. It occurs in the Alps, Italy, Sicily and the Balkan Peninsula. The species can everywhere be hunted and is included in Annex II. Two races are also included in Annex I. The race saxatilis inhabits the Alps and Italy, and its population can be estimated at 25.000 to 50.000 breeding pairs. The race withakeri inhabits Sicily only. Both races have considerably declined since 1950, mainly because of habitat changes, disturbance by tourism, cold and wet summers and over-hunting

During the breeding season, chukars feed in pairs. For the rest of the year feeding occurs in coveys, usually en route to watering areas. Coveys are usually about 20 birds; infrequently as many as 40 or more birds will form a covey. Foraging occurs in early morning and late afternoon. In summer and fall the bulk of chukar diets is composed of diffent grass seeds, wild onions and mustards are also consumed. After autumn rains cause grasses to green up, chukars consume large amounts of grass blades and basal shoots, and the bulbs, stems, leaves, and buds of a variety of plants, fruits are consumed during summer. A variety of forb and shrub seeds or fruits are consumed during the winter. Additional items reported for chukar diets include early spring greens, leaves, seeds and other mountain grasses and fruits. Chukars do not utilize legume seeds to any great degree, but do consume leaves of alfalfa, clover, and sweetclover. The diet of young chukars includes a high proportion of insects; adult birds may consume as much as 15 percent by volume. Animal foods consist primarily of grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, ants, and various insect eggs.

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 80,000-160,000 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]

Chukars breed monogamously, pairing occurs from February to March or April depending on latitude. Males appear to defend females rather than territory, this finding is in dispute, however. Males often desert the female after egg-laying. In early fall males rejoin the brood during covey formation. Coveys are formed by one or more broods, often shortly after hatching. Eggs are laid at a rate of one per day to one per 2 days. Clutch size ranges from 10 to 20 eggs, with an average of 15. Clutch size is greatly reduced in drought years; in extreme drought, breeding may not occur at all. Double brooding (production of two consecutive broods in one season) was reported from captive birds, and is suspected to occur in wild birds . Renesting following clutch loss is normal. The incubation period is typically 24 days. The precocial young leave the nest shortly after hatching. Individual flight attempts are usually made by about 2 weeks of age and as early as 10 days after hatching, brood flights (where the entire brood makes a flight together) occur by 3 weeks of age, and by 4 weeks of age the chicks have formed flight habits similar to those of adult chukars. The brood and the adult female remain near each other. Chukar nests are depressions scratched in the ground and lined with leaves and feathers, usually well camouflaged under shrubs or among rocks.

Resident or sedentary. Regular altitudinal movements in mountainous breeding areas, descending in flocks in late autumn and ascending again in spring; even in mid-winter, however, small parties occur at breeding altitudes (1900- 2700 m in Alps) where enough ground kept snow-free by winds.