Gray Partridges in Ottawa

On a cold morning, we spotted a covey of 6 Gray Partridges huddled together. They blended in so well, they could easily be overlooked as a jagged rock. Roosting together in a tight group is important for conserving heat during cold weather and in deep and soft snow (Birds of North America online). Suddenly they looked up....see video and next photo. Ottawa on 29 January 2020.


VIDEO: Covey of Gray Partridges in Ottawa

Suddenly they looked up because a Short-eared Owl flew over, which scared them into flying away for cover under some trees. Ottawa on 29 January 2020.


VIDEO: Gray Partridges feeding on weed seeds in Ottawa

Charmaine Anderson and I watched six Gray Partridges in a weedy field on a construction site. These abandoned fields are all that remain of the original farmland, which is now built on. It was a cold, snowy day, so the partridges were out in the open. Ottawa on 28 January 2020.


Gray Partridge eating weed seeds. Not native to North America, Gray Partridges were introduced as a game bird into Ontario over a century ago and did well on traditional farmland with old pastures, crop fields, crop rotation, hedgerows and low pesticide use. Ottawa on 28 January 2020.


Delightful to watch, they moved about eating weed seeds and other wild plants sticking above the snow. They also eat the seeds of domestic crops. Ottawa on 28 January 2020.


Some had a belly patch like the one above, others had a few spots and some had no dark belly markings at all. This individual could be a male as this patch is more developed in males. Ottawa on 28 January 2020.


They foraged as a covey, staying close together at all times. Ottawa on 28 January 2020.