Rock Partridge

Alectoris graeca (Meisner, 1804)

Perdix saxatilis M. u. W.: Reiser, 1894: 138; Caccabis saxatilis Maier: Klain, 1909: 104; Alectoris graeca Meisner: Patev, 1950: 327.

Order Galliformes

Family Phasianidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN [A-1-c] BDA-II; International: BD-II.

General distribution. A Turkestan-Mediterranean species distributed in the Alps from France to Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy (including Sicily), Albania, Bulgaria and Greece.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Resident, with seasonal regional vertical migrations. The population in Bulgaria belongs to the nominal subspecies Alectoris graeca graeca (Meisner, 1804) and is unique on a worldwide scale because of the presence of a zone of hybridization with the Al. chukar. It is 40 km long and passes through the Bulgarian part of the area of the species [1, 2, 3]. In the past, the spring reserve amounted to about 20 000 individuals [4]. At present there are different estimates of the numbers in the country: 600 1 000 breeding pairs [5]; 2 500 breeding pairs [6] and 3000 breeding pairs [7]. The numbers are declining in the whole area.

Habitats. Shrub associations, rocky terrains in the mountains, usually between altitudes of 900 and 2 500 m.

Biology. Monogamous. Ground breeding. From the end of April to June, the female lays 8-14 eggs that it incubates for 24-26 days. On the 7-10th day, the young ones can already fly. In the non-breeding season it lives in flocks, and during the multiplication period in pairs. It mainly feeds on parts of plants: seeds, fruits and green stems, leaves and buds. It makes vertical migrations and in the winter descends to lower areas.

Similar species. The Chukar (Alectoris chukar), the Red-legged Partridge(Alectoris rufa).

Negative factors. Excessive shooting, disturbance by tourism, building in the mountains; hybridization with the chukar, destruction and change of the habitats, probably also infectious diseases spread by the introduced chukars.

Conservation measures taken. About one fourth of the habitats are included in Protected Territories (the national parks Central Balkans, Rila, Pirin).

Conservation measures needed. Artificial breeding; introduction in areas with former habitats of the species; a ban on hunting; a discontinuation of settling the chukar in the areas where the A. graeca is an autochtonous inhabitant; nature conservation education among local people; preservation of the open unprotected nests until the young ones fly away.

References. 1. Petrov et al., 1969; 2. Bernard-Laurent, Boev, 1997; 3. Nikolov et al., in press; 4. Simeonov et al., 1990; 5. Kostadinova, 1997; 6. Nankinov et al. 2004; 7. Kostadinova, Mihailov, 2002.

Authors: Zlatozar Boev, Stoyan Nikolov

Rock Partridge (distribution map)

Rock Partridge (drawing)