Red-legged partridges

Yesterday I wrote about the grey partridge (Perdix perdix). That species is native here in Britain but it’s become rare. There’s another kind of partridge here too. The red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) was introduced in the 18th century so that aristocrats could kill it for fun.

A. rufa is sometimes called the French partridge because it’s common in France and Spain. In Britain A. rufa outnumbers P. perdix. From a conservation point of view, A. rufa is classed as being of ‘least concern’.

There may be plenty of this species on farmland and moors, but it’s not always easy to see. Its legs and face are colourful but its brown back and stripy belly give it good camouflage. You might hear it before you see it (scroll down to hear the partridge’s call).

So the red-legged partridge is there to be admired in our British countryside. If you like field sports, or if you like to eat or sell game meat, the red-legged partridge is there to be shot. It’s perhaps surprising that the rare grey partridge also can be shot legally under current UK law but yes, that’s how it is. Gamekeepers rear and release both A. rufa and P. perdix.

If, like me and like my fellow blogger Mrs Tribble, you want to eat partridge but you don’t want it to be the rare kind, you might hope that a game butcher’s display or a restaurant’s menu would tell you which species you’re looking at. In fact European Union law requires labelling by species. There’s a genetic test to distinguish partridge species. We can hope that test is being used. Partridge meat isn’t a current focus of concern regarding food fraud.

Would anybody bother committing partridge fraud? It’s lawful to shoot both partridge species in Britain and Northern Ireland. In fact their shooting seasons (now underway) are identical. So it’s lawful to cook and eat both partridge species.

About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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3 Responses to Red-legged partridges

  1. eideard says:

    Like a great deal of casual crime I’m confident laziness prevails.

  2. narf77 says:

    When we were in the U.K. visiting back in 2006 we went to a wooded area near Liverpool (they do have them there 😉 ) and saw all sorts of wild things that we most certainly don’t get here including red squirrels…we don’t have ANY squirrels here in Australia (aside from some that got loose from their cages at the zoo but that’s another story 😉 ). Its amazing how complacent we get with our own native creatures…I have seen tasmanian’s actively swerve to hit native animals on the roads and the native Tasmanians are more rednecked about animal hunting than any true hillbilly in the U.S. After seeing a mother roo dead on the road with her tiny baby squashed where it had obviously crawled out of her pouch right in front of her the other day it left a most poignant bitter taste in my mouth as to how mainstream society views, let alone treats animals.

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