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There are several birds that fly over and live on Italian soil without our knowledge and that with our activities we sometimes disturb because we go to ruin their natural habitat making life difficult for them. One of them is the rock partridge, a harmless bird that, in addition to Italy it also lives in Turkey and Greece, and in some areas of Asia Minor.
Rock partridge: characteristics
Its scientific name is Alectoris graeca and belongs to the family of the gods family Phasianids, family that we will get to know later. It is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 30 or 35 cm in length and has a wingspan of 50 - 55 cm. It has quite striking colors, although not like a tropical bird. The upper art is bluish and also the chest, there is white in the throat with a black stripe in the forehead while the wings in the hairline are brownish or reddish with black edges. The underside is rust colored and some parts of the wings may also have yellowish and red areas in the corners. The beak is a strong red while the feet are pale red, the eyes are brownish.
There is not a big difference between males and females, it is slightly larger than and has one spur to the tarsus but not obvious at first glance.
The rock partridge has four subspecies, it lives
- the Alectoris graeca graeca lives on the Balkans
- In Italy alive the Alectoris graeca orlandoi
- The Alectoris graeca saxatilis lives in the Alps, in Slovenia and in the north of the Apennines
- Alectoris graeca whitakeri lives only in Sicily
Rock partridge: where it lives
It is not a very widespread bird and in Italy we are lucky to have it because we find it only in Greece and in Turkey. A single variety of those listed also comes in Asia, in the northern areas where it looks for piles of rubble on the border between the taiga and the tundra or for mountain cliffs or rocky and uncovered terrain. In this not particularly welcoming environment, he has developed a rather aggressive disposition to survive and his agility is recognized, he is agile and combative, he has learned to climb very well and to fly fast.
In general, the areas frequented by this bird are the slopes where the sun shines and where there is some grass with and rocks that emerge. In summer it rises to high altitude while in winter when there is snow, it also goes down to the valley floor. It is a species that has always benefited frommountain agriculture and from pastoralism that allowed him to make food reserves easily. Today, which are not particularly widespread activities, he feels a problem and in fact his population has suffered from a sharp decline.
Rock partridge: habits
The rock partridge is a faithful and monogamous bird, it forms quite numerous colonies and to communicate it emits a metallic cry similar to Kakabi, kakabit, kakabe. The repeated "ci-ci-ciak" call is used only in the spring in the early morning and evening.
The diet of this animal is mainly based on the plants and small animals that live in its environment. Eat the tip of young cereals and vegetables and the small insects it finds flying over the area where it lives while in winter it moves in search of food.
The breeding period is spring. The pairs isolate themselves and the female lays after 26 days 12 - 15 yellowish eggs in June and July, protected under bushes or in cliff niches. Each year there is only one brood and only if the first fails, does a second one. The courtship begins in April, it is noticeable because the groups break up and each couple goes in search of an area in which to withdraw. There hatching eggs lasts a maximum of 28 days, the chicks are born ready to follow their mother and look for food. Towards September October the young become independent and the rock partridges form again large colonies, until the following spring, usually consisting of about ten subjects.
State of conservation
As we immediately mentioned, the habitat degradation montano is endangering this little bird which is currently classified as close to threat, its numbers are continuously declining. The abandonment of alpine areas and above all of agriculture and pastoralism at high altitudes has deprived them of sources of livelihood, other disturbing elements are certainly tourism, poaching and excessive hunting, when permitted.
Thanks to the rock partridges, we have the opportunity to get to know this family of birds, the Phasianids. All the species belonging to this family have a slender body but a small head and a short neck, short and rounded wings but a very long tail, with even 18 feathers. The beak is tapered and equipped with a hook. The males on the feet also have a spur.
The feathers are large, thin and long, they cover the whole body and occasionally form headphones and collars. As the species vary, they have different colors but with always very colorful and elegant results, especially in males who are also a little larger than females.
Most of the Phasianids it lives where there are meadows and clearings, in cold and mountainous areas where they can stay even in winter. Some move but without making real migrations, in search of food, it also depends on the ability of individuals to fly and move, for example the Pheasants have a lot of difficulty in taking flight.