These attractively-marked birds can be seen in the fields around Otley, but are actually native to southern Europe – hence the alternative name French Partridge. They were brought over as a gamebird in the 18th century. Chunky and rotund, they tend to run away when disturbed, rather than fly. Red-legged Partridges eat seeds and roots, and the young will eat insects to top up their protein. They can raise two broods of chicks simultaneously – the male incubating the second in a second nest – but despite this their numbers are in decline throughout their range. They still however outnumber the native Grey Partridge (whilst not being to blame for the latter’s decline). Clutch sizes are impressive, too: up to 17! The chicks are precocial ie independent and able to feed themselves almost immediately. The brood will stick together until the following breeding season. The plural noun is a “covey” or a “jugging”.
By Neil Griffin Photo by Pixabay