Grey partridge

For the South Asian species, see Grey francolin.
Grey partridge
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Perdicinae
Genus: Perdix
Species: P. perdix
Binomial name
Perdix perdix
(Linnaeus, 1758)

8, see text

Range of P. perdix      Native range     Introduced range

The grey partridge (Perdix perdix), also known as the English partridge, Hungarian partridge, or hun, is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. The scientific name is the Latin for "partridge", and is itself derived from Ancient Greek perdix.[2]

Widespread and common throughout much of its range, the grey partridge is evaluated as "of Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, it has suffered a serious decline in the UK, and in 2015 appeared on the "Birds of Conservation Concern" Red List.[3] This partridge breeds on farmland across most of Europe into western Asia, and has been introduced widely into Canada, United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.[4] A popular gamebird in vast areas of North America, it is commonly known as "Hungarian partridge" or just "hun".

Uncommon grey partridge in Alberta, Canada[5]

The grey partridge is a rotund bird, 28–32 cm (11–13 in) long, brown-backed, with grey flanks and chest. The belly is white, usually marked with a large chestnut-brown horse-shoe mark in males, and also in many females. Hens lay up to twenty eggs in a ground nest. The nest is usually in the margin of a cereal field, most commonly winter wheat. The only major and constant difference between the sexes is the so-called cross of Lorraine on the tertiary coverts of females—these being marked with two transverse bars, as opposed to the one in males. These are present after around 16 weeks of age when the birds have moulted into adult plumage. Young grey partridges are mostly yellow-brown and lack the distinctive face and underpart markings. The song is a harsh kieerr-ik, and when disturbed, like most of the gamebirds, it flies a short distance on rounded wings, often calling rick rick rick as it rises.

They are a seed-eating species, but the young in particular take insects as an essential protein supply. During the first 10 days of life, the young can only digest insects. The parents lead their chicks to the edges of cereal fields, where they can forage for insects. They are also a non-migratory terrestrial species, and form flocks outside the breeding season. Though common and not threatened, it appears to be declining in numbers in some areas of intensive cultivation such as Great Britain, probably due to a loss of breeding habitat and possibly food supplies. Their numbers have fallen in these areas by as much as 85% in the last 25 years. Efforts are being made in Great Britain by organizations such as the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust to halt this decline by creating conservation headlands. In 1995, it was nominated a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. In Ireland, it is now virtually confined to the Lough Boora reserve in County Offaly where a recent conservation project has succeeded in boosting its numbers to 900, raising hopes that it may be reintroduced to the rest of Ireland.


There are eight recognized subspecies:

Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden


  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Perdix perdix". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 297. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. "BoCC4 Red List" (PDF). Birds of Conservation Concern. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  4. Long, John L. (1981). Introduced Birds of the World. Agricultural Protection Board of Western Australia. pp. 21–493.
  5. Sibley, David Allen (2003). The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (A Chanticleer Press ed.). Knopf. p. 122. ISBN 0-679-45121-8.
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