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A gray partridge
A plumed partridge

A partridge is a medium-sized galliform bird in any of several genera, with a wide native distribution throughout parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. Several species have been introduced to the Americas. They are sometimes grouped in the Perdicinae subfamily of the Phasianidae (pheasants, quail, etc.). However, molecular research suggests that partridges are not a distinct taxon within the family Phasianidae, but that some species are closer to the pheasants, while others are closer to the junglefowl.


  • As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
  • A Fowler caught a Partridge, and was about to kill it. The Partridge earnestly besought him to spare his life, saying, "Pray, master, permit me to live, and I will entice many Partridges to you in recompense for your mercy to me." The Fowler replied, "I shall now with the less scruple take your life: because you are willing to save it at the cost of betraying your friends and relations."
  • It is a bird of an evil and cunning disposition. In the spring they separate with singing and fighting into pairs with the females which each may happen to take. The partridge being a bird of violent passions, it tries to prevent the female from incubation by rolling and breaking the eggs, if it can find them. The female, opposing this artifice by another, lays her eggs as she runs, and often, from her desire of laying, she drops her eggs wherever she may be, if the male is present; and, that they may all be preserved, she does not return to them. If she is observed by men, she leads them away from her eggs as from her young ones, and shows herself just before them until they are drawn away from the nest.
    • Aristotle, History of Animals, IX, 9, 2 (tr. Richard Cresswell, 1887)
  • Partridges, when, accompanied by their young, they are being pursued, allow the fledglings to fly ahead and attempt to escape, and contrive to fix the hunter’s attention on themselves by wheeling close and, when they are almost captured, fly off and away, then again remain at rest and place themselves within the reach of the hunter’s hope, until, by so exposing themselves to danger for their nestlings’ safety, they have led on the hunters to a considerable distance.
  • Partridges​ exhibit another piece of cunning, combined with affection for their young. They teach their fledglings, who are not yet able to fly, to lie on their backs when they are pursued and to keep above them as a screen some piece of turf or rubbish. The mothers meanwhile lure the hunters in another direction and divert attention to themselves, fluttering along at their feet and rising only briefly until, by making it seem that they are on the point of being captured, they draw them far away from their young.
  • If [the magistrate] discovers a young man in the house of a rich and elderly woman, waxing fat, like a cock-partridge, in her service, he will remove him and give him to some marriageable maid that wants a husband.
    • Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Solon, XX, 5 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin, 1914)
  • Who finds the partridge in the puttock's nest,
    But may imagine how the bird was dead,
    Although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
  • Like as a feareful partridge, that is fledd
    From the sharpe hauke which her attacked neare,
    And falls to ground to seeke for succor theare,
    Whereas the hungry spaniells she does spye,
    With greedy jawes her ready for to teare.
  • I like the blackbird’s shriek, and his rush
      From the turnips as I pass by,
    And the partridge hiding her head in a bush
      For her young ones cannot fly.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Reported in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 580
  • Ah, nut-brown partridges! Ah, brilliant pheasants!
    And ah, ye poachers!—'Tis no sport for peasants.
  • Or have you mark'd a partridge quake,
    Viewing the towering falcon nigh?
    She cuddles low behind the brake:
    Nor would she stay; nor dares she fly.

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