The Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. It is sometimes known as French Partridge, to distinguish it from the Grey or English Partridge.
It is a rotund bird, with a light brown back, grey breast and buff belly. The face is white with a black gorget. It has rufous-streaked flanks and red legs. When disturbed, it prefers to run rather than fly, but if necessary it flies a short distance on rounded wings.
This is a seed-eating species, but the young in particular take insects as an essential protein supply. The call is a three-syllable ka-chu-chu.
This partridge breeds naturally in south western Europe, in France and Iberia. It has become naturalised in southern England, where it was introduced as a game species, and has been seen breeding in Lancashire. It is replaced in south eastern Europe by the very similar Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca). It is a non-migratory terrestrial species, which forms flocks outside the breeding season.
This species breeds on dry lowlands, such as farmland and open stony areas, laying its eggs in a ground nest.
Adult Red-legged Partridges are sandy-brown above, pinkish-buff on the belly, and pale grey on the breast, with a prominent gorget of black streaking, bold rufous and black flank-bars, a cream throat, pink legs, and a red bill and eye ring.
The crown and upper nape of adult Red-legged Partridge are a warm pinkish-brown; the fore crown and lateral edges of the crown are pale blue-grey, and the bird has a narrow off-white supercilium running from above the lores to the sides of the lower nape. The lores have a solid bar of black feathering above a patch of pinkish-red skin. This black colouration continues behind the eye, where it broadens, and then extends down around the throat-patch to meet the upper edge of the gorget. There is a patch of pale buff-brown feathering on the ear-coverts, adjoining the black. The eye is surrounded by a bright red eye-ring.
The chin and upper throat are creamy-white, and are bordered behind and below by a solid black gorget. The black colour continues down onto the lower throat as a patch of broad triangular black streaks on a pale sandy-grey background. Similar, but narrower, black streaks are present on a pale blue-grey background on the upper neck-sides, while the lower neck-sides are warm pinkish-brown. The breast is pale blue-grey, and the belly pinkish-buff. The flanks are marked with bold bright rufous-brown bars, typically between eight and ten; each bar has a narrow black leading edge, the background colour is off-white in front of each bar, and pale grey behind.
The upper parts are plain, unmarked dark sandy-grey. The uppertail-coverts are similar in colour, and contrast with the pinkish-rufous tail-feathers.
The bill is bright red, the iris is medium brown, and the legs are pinkish-red.