Alectoris

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Alectoris
Alectoris-chukar-001.jpg
Chukar partridge
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Perdicinae
Genus: Alectoris
Kaup, 1829
Species

See text.

The genus Alectoris is a well-defined group of partridge species of the order Galliformes, allied with coturnix and snowcocks and also related to partridge-francolins ( Pternistes) and junglebush quail ( Perdicula ). They are known collectively as rock partridges. The genus name is from Ancient Greek alektoris a farmyard chicken.[1]

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.

Description[edit]

These are non-migratory birds of dry, open and often hilly country. They 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.

Introduced species and hybridisation[edit]

Members of the genus, notably the chukar and red-legged partridge, have been introduced to the United States, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The chukar (Alectoris chukar) readily interbreeds with the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), and the practice of breeding and releasing captive-bred hybrids has been banned in various countries including the United Kingdom, as it is a threat to wild populations.[2][3]

Species in taxonomic order[edit]

A prehistoric species, A. peii, is known from China. Another one, A. baryosefi, has been described from Early Pleistocene fossils found at El-`Ubeidiya (Jordan valley), Israel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  2. ^ "Hybridisation with introduced chukars". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  3. ^ "Red-legged partridge". Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. Retrieved 2015-12-25.