partridge defined in 1930 yearpartridge - Partridge;
partridge - Plumage grey and reddish brown, the male with a chestnut horseshoe patch on the lower breast. Length, twelve and a half inches.
The partridge is a favourite of the ornithologist, and of all lovers of our wild bird life. A handsome and interesting bird, he is the only indigenous gallinaceous species in Britain that is not adversely affected by the reclamation of waste lands and the spread of cultivation. On the contrary, the changes that prove fatal to other game- birds are advantageous to him, since he flourishes most on rich soils, and where agriculture is most advanced. As a bird of the homestead he is made dear by association to those who have passed their early years in rural England; to the sportsman he is more, in the long run, than any other game-bird we possess, on account of his greater abundance and more general distribution.
Except during the breeding season, the partridge is gregarious, keeping in coveys of half a dozen to twenty or more birds. Their feeding-times are early in the morning and in the afternoon. Towards noon they repair to some secluded spot to take their ease and dust themselves; and, if the weather be genial, to lie basking in the sunshine. At dusk they resort to some open place, usually the central part of a field of grass, to roost, or 'jug,' as it is called; and it may then be seen that the covey is not a mere chance assemblage, but a community, under the leadership of one individual, presumably the oldest and most sagacious cock bird among them. At the approach of sunset, and until dark, the call of the leader may be heard from the chosen roosting-ground. It is a familiar sound to everyone in the rural districts - a harsh and powerful cry; but, like the clamour of blackbirds and redwings on going to rest, and the cawing of rooks at eventide, it has a great charm for the lover of nature. In character it resembles the call of the guinea-fowl, but is somewhat more metallic, and is more powerful and far-reaching. When the birds are assembled, they settle down for the night a little distance apart from each other, disposed in a circle, all with faces turned outwards. Disposed in this form, it must be difficult for any prowling animal to come upon them without being detected by some one bird in the covey.
In spring, usually in March, pairing takes place, and the coveys break up; but if snow or frost supervenes the birds pack again, and wait in company for the return of milder weather. In the pairing season the males are jealous and pugnacious, and two cocks are often seen engaged in fierce fight, making the fields resound, meanwhile, with their angry cries.
The nest is placed on the ground, among the growing corn, or under the shelter of an untrimmed hedge, and is a mere hollow scratched in the earth, with a slight lining of dead grass and leaves. The eggs vary in number from six or seven to eighteen, and are of a uniform olive-brown colour. When the young have been hatched by the female the male assists in rearing and protecting them, and both birds display intense anxiety and great boldness in the presence of danger, and will drag themselves over the ground, with flapping and trailing wings, within a few yards of a man or dog, to entice him away from their chicks. The young feed principally on insect food, small caterpillars, and larvae of ants, of which they are extremely fond. The old birds include green leaves, buds, grain, and seeds of weeds, in their dietary.
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