These are medium-sized partridges with dull-coloured bills and legs, streaked brown upperparts, and rufous tails and flanks barring. Neither sex has spurs on the legs, and the only plumage distinction is that females tend to be duller in appearance.
Grey and Daurian partridges are very closely related and similar in appearance, and form a superspecies. Tibetan partridge has a striking black and white face pattern, black breast barring and 16 tail feathers instead of the 18 of the other species.
None of the species is threatened on a global scale, but the two more widespread partridges are over-hunted in parts of their range. The grey partridge has been badly affected by agricultural changes, and its range has contracted considerably.
The bird shares its name with the nephew of Daedalus of Greek mythology, who was transformed into the bird when his uncle murdered him in jealousy. He was killed when thrown headlong down from the sacred hill of Minerva, so, mindful of his fall, the bird does not build its nest in the trees, nor take lofty flights and avoids high places.
- Grey partridge, Perdix perdix
- Daurian partridge, Perdix dauurica
- Tibetan partridge, Perdix hodgsoniae
A prehistoric species only known from fossils was described as Perdix palaeoperdix. Occurring all over southern Europe during the Early–Late Pleistocene, it was a favorite food of the Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals. The relationships between the prehistoric species and the grey partridge are somewhat obscure; while very similar, they might be better understood as sister species rather than the grey partridge evolving from the Pleistocene taxon.
- Holmes, Richard (2013). Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air. HarperCollins. p. 1760. Retrieved 16 April 2013.