Partridges Habitat Preferences And Behaviour
Partridges’ biotope is rather complex – they live on open, arable, preferably with diversity of fields, grasslands, also wastelands, with not too high bushes of grass, stripes of vegetation and thicket, creating bases where it is possible to hide from threats or unfavourable weather conditions. Important habitats for partridges are hedges and mid-field trees with surrounding vegetation, nowadays receding from Polish landscape.
Partridge manages to quite well live in human company and often during winter, flocks of these birds can be seen near farms, sometimes inside henhouses, where they can find food and shelter. Partridges easily adapt to environmental changes and they often use the sides of roads and communication tracts, where they can find areas of wastelands.
Adult partridges feed on seed and small grassland vegetation, young shoots of grass and grains. Young partridge’s food consists in around 50% of insects and their larvae, inter alia, bugs, beetles, moth and butterflies and true bugs. Sometimes they also eat ant and wingless insects’ larvae. As it is in majority of cases, the survival of chicks depends on food accessibility.
Partridges’ diet is dependent on the season. In spring and early summer up to 10% of the food constitutes animal sources: various mollusca, insects larvae and adult forms and also annelids. During examinations of the birds’ stomach content also potato bugs are sometimes found. Plant food consists of leaves of various grass species, trefoil, chickweed, knotweed and also grains and grassland plants’ seeds.
In autumn partridges prefer exclusively plant food with the majority of synanthropic plants, that are weed, and seeds. In winter, unfortunately, food is sparse and they have to industriously try to peck from under the snow young shoots of grains, the remnants of stubble and seeds. This season is exceptionally hard for them and it is characterized by huge death rate, also from the cold.
Significant from the developmental point of view is the mentioned patchwork quilt landscape, currently rather rare. Monocultures on farmland are detrimental for partridges because of lack of diversity and shelter which would allow to successfully rear the brood. The access to sandy locations gives the opportunity to properly take care of their feathers, these places are also often visited in order to find rest or warmth in summer.
Behaviour of partridges is associated with the habitat in which this species resides. Partridges are insidious birds, most often remaining in flocks, with rather strong social ties and strong territorialism. Partridges are monogamous, they form pairs and spend the whole breeding period together. This is the time when they also break up from the coveys they belonged to previously. Certain part of the year is spent in a flock, which is connected with the communication in situations of threat.
They are not disturbed by other groups of birds, on the contrary, sometimes it is beneficial. What has been noticed during aviary observations is the fact that males – one after another make kieerr-ik sounds– which means they call loudly several times and at this time females hide in high grass or they lie on the ground as fast as they can.
Due to the concealing plumage, these birds are almost invisible from above, and thy also are difficult to notice from a distance (see photo 1). Partridges tend to crouch which often leads to their death during farming. One of the methods of hunting this animal is the so called “deptak” which means flushing the birds out at the very last moment. When partridges have good shelter on the fields, they usually run fast and hide inside grass or thickets.
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