The genus Alectoris, are a well-defined tribe of Galliform bird species allied with coturnix and snowcocks and also related to francolin and junglefowl. They are known collectively as rock partridges. Their fossils date back to the early Pleistocene, with extant representatives in southern Europe, North Africa and Arabia, and across Asia in Pakistan to Tibet and western China. Members of the genus, notably the chukar and red-legged partridge, have been introduced to the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Hawaii. In some countries, such as Great Britain, hybrids between the two widespread introduced species are common.
These are non-migratory birds of dry, open and often hilly country. The nest in a scantily lined ground scrape laying up to 20 eggs. They feed on a wide variety of seeds and vegetation. Ants are a very important source of nutrition for the birds as are pine nuts, juniper berries and lichen
These are superficially corpulent birds, typically with a light brown or grey back, grey breast and buff belly. The face is white or whitish with a dark gorget. Their specialized flank coverts give them the appearance of being more rotund than they actually are. Alectoris exhibit rufous-streaked flanks and red legs armed with well-developed, ball hammer like spurs. When disturbed they run very rapidly, often uphill. When pressed, rock partridges take to the wing. Their wings are long and fairly sharp, shaped rather like those of the ptarmigan and spruce grouse, suggesting that the birds sustain themselves in flight over substantial distances to find food. This probably occurs most often during winter.
Species in taxonomic order
- Arabian partridge, Alectoris melanocephala
- Przevalski's partridge, Alectoris magna
- Rock partridge, Alectoris graeca
- Chukar partridge, Alectoris chukar
- Philby's partridge, Alectoris philbyi
- Barbary partridge, Alectoris barbara
- Red-legged partridge, Alectoris rufa
- Madge, Steve; McGowan, Philip J. K. & Kirwan, Guy M. (2002): Pheasants, partridges and grouse : a guide to the pheasants, partridges, quails, grouse, guineafowl, buttonquails and sandgrouse of the world. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-3966-0
Phylogenetic analysis of gallinaceous birds inferred from mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 5 gene sequences Wee Hui Kit Publisher: 2002.
A Molecular Phylogeny of the Pheasants and Partridges Suggests That These Lineages Are Not Monophyletic R. T. Kimball,* E. L. Braun,*,† P. W. Zwartjes,* T. M. Crowe,‡,§ and J. D. Ligon*
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