Grey Partridge (Wild)
The Grey Partridge is native to Britain and historically served as an important food source. The combination of deforestation for land enclosure, with increased cultivation and predator control in the 18th and 19th centuries, lead to thriving numbers from 1870 – 1930s. During this time, they became an iconic sporting bird and two million were shot annually.
Grey partridge numbers have dwindled since the intensification of agriculture after the Second World War. Removal of hedgerows, grassy areas for breeding and the use of insecticides resulting in less food for chicks, are thought to be some of the main causes for their decline.
Today, wild Grey Partridge numbers are still under threat. However, strongholds still exist in the East of England and Scotland.
The Red-legged Partridge is not indigenous to Britain, but is thought to have first been introduced to East Anglia in the late 1700s. Red-legs originate from Spain, Portugal and France and favour lighter soil with dry conditions. They are prolific breeders and it is not uncommon for pairs to produce more than one brood per season, making them easy to rear.
The popularity and distribution of red-legs as a game bird increased post-1960, following the decline of the grey partridge, providing a solution to ensure the survival of partridge shooting across the UK.
Red-legs are also adaptable and can be held on a range of different land and habitat, including lowland moors across England, Wales and in Scotland, and on moors which once held Red Grouse. Red-legs are now released on moorland to simulate their upland sporting cousin.