Day 1: A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The Grey Partridge, or Hungarian Partridge, was introduced to Canada in the early 1900s, and now makes its home mostly in Southern areas of the Prairies, although it can be found in other parts of the country as well. These year-round residents nest on the ground and lay huge clutches of up to 22 eggs!
The most fascinating thing about these little game birds is their incredible ability to survive the extreme Canadian Prairie winters. They manage this by feeding mostly on waste grain in cultivated fields. Undeterred by the snow, a group or ‘covey’ of partridges will burrow through the snow and feed on the leftovers of harvest, spending almost all of their energy on food procurement and predator avoidance. They leave a characteristic network of tracks or tunnels in the snow, an easily identifiable sign of their recent presence.
Fondly referred to as ‘Huns’, Grey Partridges are a popular target for upland game hunters, and are classified as a species of Least Concern in Canada. Relatively few partridges have been submitted to the CWHC over the years, but of those that have, most were trauma cases killed by vehicle collisions or predator attacks, which isn’t too surprising given their ground-dwelling habits.
Photo K.Pitk via Wikimedia Commons