Grey Partridge Perdix perdix


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 1,380,000-2,670,000 pairs, which equates to 2,750,000-5,340,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 70% of the global range, so a revised estimate of the global population size is 3,900,000-7,600,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The population is estimated to be in overall decline. It has suffered marked declines in all parts of its native range owing to habitat loss and degradation caused by agricultural intensification and loss of insect prey caused by pesticides (McGowan and Kirwan 2013). This corresponds well with the strong long-term (1980-2013) decline reported for the European population by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC 2015) and the <25% decline in the European population over three generations (11.7 years) reported by the 2015 European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015).

Distribution and population

The species occurs throughout much of the western Palearctic, with a native range encompassing Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and China (del Hoyo et al. 1994). The subspecies italica, endemic to parts of Italy, has been extinct since the 1980s as a result of hybridisation with introduced individuals of the nominate subspecies (Liukkonen-Anttila et al. 2002).


The following information relates to the species's European range only. It is found in the temperate zone, steppe regions and open arable landscapes (McGowan and Kirwan 2013). Its preferred habitat is open, low-intensity mixed farmland with small fields and hedges on grassy banks (Potts 1986, Birkan and Jacob 1988). It is found in large tracts of grassland, or other ground cover that is only slightly taller than the bird itself with some dense shrubby patches at intervals such as hedgerows. Laying occurs from late April in the U.K., early May to June in central Europe and late May to June in Sweden with re-nesting until August or September (McGowan and Kirwan 2013). It typically lays 15–17 eggs in the first clutch but fewer eggs when re-nesting. The nest is a shallow depression lined with plant material at the base of a hedge or other thick vegetation (Madge and McGowan 2002). It feeds on seeds of grains and weeds, cereals and clover and grass leaves as well as insects. The species is mainly sedentary however it is partially migratory in eastern Europe and performs altitudinal migration in the Caucasus moving to the foothills in October and November (McGowan & Kirwan 2013).


In Europe since the early part of the 20th century, the species may have declined in all 31 countries in which it is found. In the U.K., the reduction in numbers is believed to be as high as 80%; causes probably include factors such as loss of nesting cover, predation, herbicides (chick survival rates in U.K. declined from 49% to 32% once their use became widespread) and pesticides that reduce insect abundance in the spring. All of these factors are the consequences of intensification of agricultural practices (McGowan and Kirwan 2013).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Mace Lande: Safe. EU Birds Directive Annex II and III, Perdix perdix italica and Perdix perdix hispaniensis Annex I. A national Species Management Plan for the Italian Grey Partridge (P. p. italica) was published in 1999 (Palumbo and Gallo-Orsi 1999). In the U.K., supplementary winter feeding is also being attempted to benefit this, and other declining granivorous birds, on farmland (McGowan and Kirwan 2013).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Within Europe, recommendations to address current population reductions include: provision of good-quality nesting cover; reduction of nest predation by controlling impact of foxes, stoats and feral cats and improving insect abundance in spring so that chicks have sufficient prey items (McGowan and Kirwan 2013).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A. & Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Perdix perdix. Downloaded from on 13/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 13/08/2022.