Breeding birds: 37, 000 territories
Family: Pheasants, partridges and quails
Male grey partridges have variable chestnut-brown and grey upperparts with mottled darker brown wings. They have grey underparts with a dark chestnut patch on the lower breast. Their bellies are pale grey and their flanks are grey with heavy chestnut-coloured bars.
They have chestnut or orange heads with a grey-brown hind neck. The crown and ear coverts are grey. They have a slightly hooked bill which is white. Their eyes are brown with a faint red eye-ring and dark supercilium, and their legs and feet are pinkish-grey with a spur on the rear.
Female grey partridges are duller than males and they sometimes don’t have the chestnut patch on the breast and lack the supercilium.
Juveniles have yellow-brown plumage without the pattern on the face or underparts, but more conspicuous bars on the wings and brown legs.
Grey partridges breed from late April to June. The nest is a shallow depression lined with leaves and grass situated at the base of a large bush or hedgerow, or in dense vegetation.
Grey partridges lay 15-17 olive-coloured eggs which are incubated by the female alone for 23-25 days. The male stays near the nest. Both parents care for the chicks who can make short flights at 10-12 days of edge and can fly fully 16-20 days after hatching. They remain in the family group for a few more weeks and reach sexual maturity at a year.
Grey partridges feed on plant matter including seeds, cereals, and grass. They will also catch insects which they feed to their chicks.
Grey partridges can be seen all year round in the UK. They are found in lowland areas in the south, east, and north of England, as well as the east of Scotland.
Grey partridges lay some of the biggest clutches of any birds, with sizes of up to 28 eggs having been recorded.
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