Upper parts cinereous, variegated with brown and black; a deep chestnut crescent-shaped spot on the breast.
P. cinerea, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. II. p. 488. Id. Pig. et Gall. torn. in. pp. 373, & 728. Common Partridge, Mont. Orn. Diet. Selb. Must. vol. I. p. 433. pl. 61. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. I. p. 348.
Entire length thirteen inches: length of the bill (from the forehead) seven lines and a half, (from the gape) eleven lines; of the tarsus one inch nine lines; of the tail three inches four lines; from the carpus to the end of the wing six inches two lines: breadth, wings extended, twenty inches six lines.
(Male). Sides of the face, throat, and eyebrows, bright rust-colour: behind the eye a naked red skin: neck and breast bluish gray with fine zigzag black lines; on the lower part of the breast a large patch of deep chestnut-brown in the shape of a horse-shoe; flanks cinereous, with undulating black lines, and a large rust-coloured bar towards the tip of each feather: back, rump, and upper tail-coverts, cinereous brown, with transverse zigzag black lines and a few narrow bars of reddish brown; scapulars and wing-coverts of a deeper hue than the back, with the shafts of the feathers yellowish white; quills blackish gray, spotted and barred with pale yellowish red: tail of eighteen feathers; the four middle ones marked like the back; the others bright rust-colour: bill and feet bluish gray: irides hazel. (Female). Less of the rust-coloured tinge on the head and throat; feathers on the crown of the head spotted with white: upper plumage generally darker, with a greater number of black bars and spots: the horse-shoe mark on the breast very indistinct, or altogether wanting. "White and pied varieties are occasionally met with. (Egg). Of a uniform olive-brown: long. diam. one inch five lines; trans, diam. one inch and half a line.
Abundant in all the cultivated parts of Great Britain, but seldom found at a distance from arable land, which is its favourite haunt. Feeds on seeds and insects, and especially on the pupae of ants. Pairs in February, and commences laying about the middle or end of May. Eggs twelve to twenty in number, deposited on the ground, amongst brush-wood and long grass, or in fields of clover and standing corn. Period of incubation three weeks. After the young are hatched, they flock together in coveys till the following Spring.